June 28, 2011

Haven Book Review

By Justin Kemppainen

“In the city of Haven, the dreams of the Citizens have been realized in the Separation project. No longer will people of good stature and breeding be required to interact with the working class, the filthy and disease-ridden rejects that fill the streets. No longer will real people have to suffer junkies, criminals, and thieves. Instead, a cleaner and purer world has been crafted to suit your every need. The best part? Well, all those undesirables had to be worth something, after all. Why not just use them? Give them a short re-education and make them docile workers. Yet in these dark slums beneath the city of Haven, things are being set in motion. Plans are being carried out, forces are being gathered. The powerful and reclusive slumlord, Elijah, starts a chain of events which will swallow everyone in the city - Citizen and undesirable alike.” –Editorial Review from Amazon.com

When I got my new Kindle I was searching around for free amazon.com books to test out my new toy. I wanted some fluff, something to read under a maple tree in the grass on those sunny summer days, and this book looked like it fit the bill. With low expectations I began reading (it is free after all). To my surprise I found that Kemppainen had put some thought into this story. It’s fast paced and interesting, a book you don’t want to put down because there’s never a slow spot. He develops caricatures that I cared about and a world that was a mixture of his suggestions and my assumptions. This is one of those stories where you see the action in your head as you read and wonder afterwards whether Kemppainen told you the building looked like that or if you put it together yourself. He never gets lost in the details but focuses his attention right where it needs to be, giving us just enough rope.

Not only is the story fast paced but it is multidimensional. This isn’t just the story of one caricature but the interwoven stories of many residing within a world which takes on its own life and feel as we see it through different lenses. Kemppainen also manages to give us some mystery. Throughout the book I knew something was missing, it’s just around the corner and I turned each page hoping to find it in the next paragraph. Like any good mystery we aren’t just strung along until the last page but given crumbs that lead us to the author’s pay off. 

This is not Isaac Asimov, with his deep and complex worlds which challenge today’s social orders. It is a fun and exciting futuristic (but not space shippy) read that walks the narrow line between light reading and good old fashioned fun. There are books that you read because they are classics and expand your mind and then there are books you read because they make you feel good. This is a fun feel good book.

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