The Flight of the Silvers: Did Not Finish

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price fantasy book reviewsThe Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

Daniel Price’s The Flight of the Silvers is a 600-page story about a half-dozen people who are pulled from the end of the world into an alternate Earth, where they become the subjects of scientific scrutiny, partially for their origin stories and partially because each evinces a “weirdness” — some sort of power involving the manipulation of time. When their laboratory residence is attacked by a group who fear these “breachers” will cause the end of their own world, the “Silvers” take off on a cross-country trek seeking answers in a possible sanctuary, a refuge they heard of via the future self of one of them.

The premise is an interesting one and certainly beginning with the literal end of a world is a pretty wild opening. But then, to be honest, once the pace goes downhill a bit (it is understandably hard to maintain apocalyptic levels of urgency), it flatlines and then stays there for at least the next three hundred pages, which is as much as I gave it. I just couldn’t imagine continuing along in that same vein for another three hundred pages.

Plot-wise, the length is simply too much for what happens or is described, with equal page time given to events regardless of their significance or interest. Several times I had issues with the plausibility, while at other times information seemed withheld for authorial reasons of plot, as when one character is directly warned from the future about a dangerous individual and she decides not to tell anyone else. This happens despite the fact they were just nearly killed.

Deeply compelling characters might have carried me along through a flat plot, but none of the six feels like much more than sketches and the whole feels more like a collection of types: the low-esteem alcoholic, the funny creative type, etc.

I can’t say The Flight of the Silvers is a bad book, and had it been 250-300 pages long I would have finished it, even at a length of 400 pages. But as it is, it’s hard to say the time commitment reaps the necessary reward. Not recommended.

Publication Date: February 4, 2014. Without warning, the world comes to an end. The sky looms frigid white. The electric grid falters. Airplanes everywhere crash to the ground. Within moments, the sky comes down in a crushing sheet of light, and everything and everyone are gone—except for Hannah and Amanda Given. Saved from destruction by three fearsome and powerful beings, the Given sisters suddenly find themselves elsewhere: a strange new Earth where restaurants move through the air like flying saucers and the fabric of time is manipulated by common household appliances. Soon Hannah and Amanda are joined by four other survivors from their world—a mordant cartoonist, a shy teenage girl, a brilliant young Australian, and a troubled ex-prodigy. Hunted by enemies they never knew they had, and afflicted with temporal abilities they never wanted, the sisters and their companions begin a cross-country journey to find the one man who can save them—before time runs out.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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6 comments

  1. I can’t remember the last time I saw a DNF from you.

    Yes, the “equal importance” thing. Where does that come from? Episodic TV, maybe, where you have 22 hours to tell a story and so describing the teenage daughter’s search for a prom dress (when the prom doesn’t figure in the plot) is cute and provides comic relief? Or is it just a developmental stage for a writer. I’m sorry, but the six-hour walk through the ruined city (or whatever) is just *not* as important as what your future-self told you. Get on with the story!

  2. Bill, a DNF from you is very unusual, but what’s also surprising is that this book has nearly a 5-star rating (from 133 reviews) at Amazon and over a 4 (with 1500 ratings) at Goodreads. I trust you completely, but why do you think it is getting such high reviews elsewhere? This is a strange situation and I’m dying to know the answer!

  3. I’m not sure. Skimming through, it appears a lot of the three and twos also had issues with the weak characterization, so maybe it’s more of a preference thing where some readers need strong characters and others are fine with OK characters in a good plot? Though as I mentioned, I’m also didn’t respond so great to the plot either. It’s a mystery to me. Though I will say that had it been half its length, I would have finished it and probably given it a three I’m guessing (assuming what was cut was the more annoying or clumsy or just unnecessary parts). But I just could not convince myself at page 300 to read Yet another 300 pages at that same relatively unrewarding or only slightly rewarding response level (And even then all that for a book one). The joys of personal reader response!

  4. It’s not a huge mystery. Opinions vary. The majority of people who liked my book specifically praised the strength of the characters. The people who disliked it cited the characters as one of their main grievances. Readers are a diverse and fickle bunch. But overall I’m happy with how the reviews are skewing.

    For what it’s worth, Bill, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy “The Flight of the Silvers.” The only reason I’m responding is because you’re one of the rare few people who’ve written a thoughtful and civil DNF review. I very much appreciate that.

    • Now that is a gracious response!

      We readers are indeed a fickle and varied group. Heck, that holds as true for us singly as it does for us in numbers. As Whitman says, we contain multitudes, and what that means in this context is sometimes the time and place we’re at in our lives (both literally and metaphorically) has an impact on how we respond to a text. Even the last text we read has an impact on the current one, much as we try as reviewers to separate them. It is certainly possible the elements I point to might have had somewhat less of an impact at another time and it’s not only possible but guaranteed that other readers won’t even notice them. Luckily for all involved.

      I’m glad you found the review respectful and civil. To be honest, your response has me setting aside Silvers to give it another shot.

  5. I’m a slow reader and was intimated by the length of this book. However, I’m 20 pages from the end and it has been a great read for me. It hasn’t felt as long as it is. Whenever time travel or time manipulation comes into play things get complicated, but I think the Daniel did a good job and it’s an entertaining read. Some characters do some stupid things, or withhold information, but they do seem to learn as the book goes on, and I did like it how the characters interacted in different ways with each other in the group. I’ll be looking forward to the sequel.

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