Mind the Gap: Not much to complain about

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book review Christopher Golden Tim Lebbon Hidden Cities Mind the GapMind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

Even though Mind the Gap is extremely fast-paced, the novel started out really slowly for me and it wasn’t until 160 pages in that I began to get excited about the book. The problem was that for almost the first half it seemed like Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon were just going through the motions, delivering a plot that was one recognizable convention after another:

The protagonist’s mother mysteriously murdered by shadowy people and forced on the run… Raised to trust no one, Jazz constantly lives in a state of paranoia… Discovers a forgotten subterranean Underworld of abandoned bomb shelters and train stations… The whole London backdrop and its ghosts of the past… A group of runaway urchins — and their Fagin-like mentor Mr. F — who survive by stealing from those ‘topside’… Possessing abilities that no one else has…

It wasn’t until the gentleman thief came into the picture in Chapter Eleven that Mind the Gap began to get really interesting. Questions were answered, pieces of the jigsaw puzzle started to fall into place, the intensity and excitement was ramped up, and the novel began to show off some of that imagination and panache that the authors are known for, including a heart-pounding finish — particularly the last fifty pages — of unexpected twists, tragedy, old magic, and rebirth…

Mind the Gap may be the first collaboration between Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, but their writing styles mesh together so well, it’s like they were born to work with one another. Both write with great confidence, possess smooth prose, know how to tell an engaging story, and are vividly creative. Plus, they really complement one another. Lebbon has a gift for evoking the horrific, while Golden knows how to appeal to the younger/mainstream audience, both of which come into play in the novel. The one drawback regarding the authors is their characters. While Mr. Golden and Mr. Lebbon can write well-drawn characters, they tend to lack a certain depth and intimacy and the cast in Mind the Gap is no exception. Other than that, there’s not much to complain about apart from the slow beginning.

CONCLUSION: “It’s now how you start, but how you finish.” This old adage has been applied to everything from life to sports, and it works just as well for a novel. At least for me, I will always appreciate more a novel that starts slowly and ends on a high note opposed to one that starts strongly and peters out at the end. Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon is the former: a novel that takes a while to get going, but when it finally does kick into high gear, the results are spectacular. Because of the terrific finish — and the combined talents of two great authors in Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon — I highly recommend Mind the Gap and have high hopes for the next Hidden Cities novel.

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ROBERT THOMPSON (on FanLit's staff July 2009 — October 2011) is the creator and former editor of Fantasy Book Critic, a website dedicated to the promotion of speculative fiction. Before FBC, he worked in the music industry editing Kings of A&R and as an A&R scout for Warner Bros. Besides reading and music, Robert also loves video games, football, and art. He lives in the state of Washington with his wife Annie and their children Zane and Kayla. Robert retired from FanLit in October 2011 after more than 2 years of service. He doesn't do much reviewing anymore, but he still does a little work for us behind the scenes.

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