The Fold – Peter Clines

9780553447477.jpegFrom the jacket:

Step into the fold. It’s perfectly safe.

The folks in Mike Erikson’s small New England town would say he’s just your average, everyday guy. And that’s exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he’s chosen isn’t much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he’s content with his quiet and peaceful existence.

That is, until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve: a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device that “folds” dimensions, promising to make mankind’s dreams of teleportation a reality. Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn’t quite what it seems-and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret.

As his investigations draw him deeper into the puzzle, Mike begins to fear there’s only one answer that makes sense. And if he’s right, it may only be a matter of time before the project destroys…everything.

One part thriller, two parts sci-fi, heaps of mystery and a dollop of Lovecraftian horror – The Fold has everything. Fast-paced and entertaining to the very last page, this one kept me up into the wee hours of the morning. The protagonist is a secret genius with an eidetic memory, the face of a young Alan Rickman and the hair of Professor Snape.  He’s funny and engaging, totally relatable, and his abilities are mind-blowingly fascinating. Along with a odd group of DARPA scientists, who are as different as they are secretive, Mike sets out to discover the real truth behind the Albuquerque Door before it’s too late.

As always, I’m going to get into more detail after the jump. Read at your discretion.

I received this book in the mail a few days before I was scheduled to leave for a business trip. Before taking a book with me, I like to start reading it to try to determine if it will pass my airplane test. The test is simple; I need the book to be immersive enough of an experience that I can forget I’m in a pressurized cylinder forty thousand feet above the ground, barreling through the clouds at over five hundred miles per hour.

I sat down on the couch intending to read the first couple of pages, and didn’t look up until I reached the end of the first chapter. When I came to, two of my children were screaming at each other while fighting over the same block, and the other two were running circles around me and singing A Whole New World from Aladdin at the top of their lungs.

Test passed.

I quickly packed it into my suitcase so I wouldn’t be tempted to keep reading before I got on the plane.

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 10.37.03 PM.png

The Fold arrived just in time to bring along on my business trip.

I’m normally a pretty anxious flyer, but having this book to look forward to helped take the edge off. I had it out and ready to go as soon as I sat down. I read right through take off, and didn’t stop until it was almost time to land. This one definitely passes the airplane test. Clines is a skillful mystery writer. The pace was perfect, and the science was detailed without being extraneous.

Mike is in my top ten favorite protagonists of all time. He was such a fun character to read, and I thought Clines did a great job bringing his traits to life in a way that felt very authentic. Being inside his head was fascinating. He has an eidetic memory, and  describes his thoughts and memories as swarms of red and black ants retrieving information for him. At the book’s opening, he’s living in a small New England town, teaching high school English, when he’s asked by his lifelong friend Reggie to go and check out a top secret project.

On the outside, everything seems to be on the up and up, but Reggie is convinced there is something going on, and he wants to get to the bottom of it before going public with this world changing discovery. When Mike tries to probe to find out what he thinks is going on, Reggie says,”You know when you’re in a rush and you put a T-shirt on backward? Even if there’s no tag in it, you don’t have to look in the mirror to know it’s on wrong. You can just feel it.” Mike agrees to check it out, and shenanigans ensue. I won’t elaborate further, because this book is full of delightful surprises and oddities that are better experienced with no preconceived notions.

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It totally passed the plane test. 

This book reminded me a lot of Jeff VanderMeer’s The Southern Reach Trilogy. It starts off as a really compelling mystery and then beings to veer into the strange. Before long, you’re way past the strange, and into a story that is so weird, you feel as if you might have somehow ventured into an alternate reality.

The Fold is like that. The first couple of hundred pages or so were really phenomenal, but around page 260ish, shit starts to get weird AF. This is not a mystery that my brain ever would have worked out. On top of being super weird, the ending felt really rushed, and a bit Men In Black-esque. That’s totally a thing.

Final Thoughts: The first 2/3rds of this book were pure gold, but final 100 pages or so were super weird. I did enjoy it immensely, but the rushed ending and bizarre factor lost it a crown. I definitely think you should check it out, and have already started recommending it to friends. This was the first of Cline’s books that I’ve read, but I will definitely be picking up more. I am completely enamored by his writing style, and look forward to getting lost in more of his work. You can read more about Peter Clines here.

Rating: Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 11.10.19 PM

Favorite Characters: Mike, Jamie, Sasha

Memorable Quotes:

You know when you’re in a rush and you put a T-shirt on backward? Even if there’s no tag in it, you don’t have to look in the mirror to know it’s on wrong. You can just feel it.

He closed his eyes, blocking off the gray ceiling of the trailer. In his mind, he scrolled back over all the movies he’d ever seen, and decided it might be worth watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier again. The darkness behind his eyelids became the flickering Marvel logo.

We’re looking for quantum donuts.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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