Sunday, April 14, 2013

The last iteration of Dexter Maxwell

Matthew Hart
Capscovil, 2012 (my review copy was gracefully provided by Capscovil)
Size: Average (my paperback copy has 399 pages)
Theme: Time travel
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Dexter Maxwell
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

I have to start by saying that this was the kind of book that I read without having seen any synopsis or preview, so I had no starting expectations. In addition to that, my opinion of it changed dramatically from chapter 1 to chapters 2-3. The first 50 or so pages (half of chapter 1) felt dull and were a pain to go through. But after that, the plot twists and actually starts developing, so that soon you’re entranced in the story and eager to read more. Having said this, in retrospective, the early plot is very relevant to setup the rest of the story, and thus, by the end of the book, I no longer felt that early start was a waste of my time. 

The storyline follows Dexter Maxwell, a youngster living in Grenver (Greater Metropolitan Front Range) in the year 2113. The highly regulated society is – as expected – quite different from today, and features – as expected – a considerable social gap. Dexter (Dex to his friends), Mal (his soon-to-be love interest), Thelo, and Money, run a motley crew of revolutionary guerrilla, aiming to throw a wrench on the wheels of the regime. As the plot unfolds and the group runs into trouble, they are caught during a daring heist, and suddenly, the story changes drastically as Dexter is thrown into a time-travelling, sword-yielding, space-invasion, dire adventure.

After the 50 or so initial pages (about which I already rambled enough) the plot flows nicely and the book starts exploring a large number of different concepts that entirely change your perspective of both Dexter Maxwell and the universe as it is in 2113. The book has a bit of gore and mutilation to assure it’s not taken lightly and that you never think of Dexter as having a good time while trying to survive time-travelling assassins. Curiously, time-travel in this reality can be achieved through two different means, which adds to the story, although neither is (at least in book 1) ever tackled by the author. Characters are sufficiently developed, although nobody aside Dexter is featured prominently and one does hope that in the upcoming sequels we’ll hear more about some of them.

Overall, it was a surprisingly good read, and I highly recommend it. I look forward to reading the sequels (as this is clearly marketed as “Book 1”).

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

The Dexter after chapter 2 is revealed to be a clone of the original Dexter, who has actually been cloned several times along the 900 years that separate chapter 1 from chapter 2. He is supposedly the “last iteration”, and his main nemesis is a previous iteration named Ashion. As Ashion continues his actions to change the past and kill anyone with time-travelling capabilities, Dexter manages to considerably master time travel (within its constraints). After finding Freedom tortured and having her die next to him, he decides he will actively try to interfere with the past. The book ends hanging on Dexter’s shift into just a few days after having awakened for the first time in the year 3027.

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