Review based on ARC (Advanced Readers Copy received free from publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Overall, I thought this book was a great sci-fi/lite-horror read. The first half, in particular, I essentially couldn't put down. The set-up, the characterization, the suspense, the conflict - it was all put together just right to make me NEED to read more. I finally went to sleep that first night. I finished the book on day 2.
Although the second half was also very difficult to put down, I think once you know "what's up," it makes it just a touch less impossible to put down (though I confess that I was outside reading, insisting on turning page after page until well after I should have gone inside because I couldn't really see anymore... ). What lags a touch in that second half is .... I don't know, it takes science liberties throughout (it is, after all, science fiction), but I think those liberties taken in the latter half were more on the "maybe impossible" side than the first half ;)
Regardless, it was an excellent piece of science fiction and I am very excited for the other Clines books in my collection & wishlists!
My favorite things: the concept, the pace, the accessibility to such a cool idea. I really liked Mike, Bob, Olaf (scientist/engineer). I also liked just fine the rest of the characters: Jamie (scientist; female foil to Mike), Sasha (engineer; star trek obsessed), Arthur (head scientist of the project), and Reggie. Honestly, it's hard to nail something down, because I really just loved all of it.
Synopsis, for those who want it:
Leland "Mike" Erikson is a great high school teacher, but his friend Reggie Magnus has been harassing him for the past decade+ to come work for him - working for the feds. Sure, Magnus likes his friend Mike, but it appears the real reason he's interested in his talents is the sheer potential of them---Mike is brilliant and has an actual eidetic (photographic) memory. Reggie finally convinces Mike to check out the latest project because it's mysterious, fascinating, and poses a potentially grand problem.
The project: Mike is to visit a site in the San Diego dessert where scientists have built and used a device (set of devices) called the Albuquerque Door (yes, I love this name ;)). It purports to be a teleportation device that, rather than transferring matter, "folds" time/distance over. (Yes, somewhat akin to a wrinkle in time or, perhaps, a wormhole like in Stargate, though the scientists are sensitive to the latter comparison (the former is not mentioned).) However, something seems to be wrong. Unfortunately, Reggie cannot explain what is wrong, if anything, it just... "feels wrong," like how when you're wearing a shirt backwards, you just know it's off. So he's commissioned his brilliant friend to visit the site, consult with the scientists, and learn what he can -- all in an effort to ensure the project can continue to be funded by the government and, ultimately, change the world.
Mike, of course, accepts. The scientists all have difficult personalities that Mike has to tangle with, and they are all jumpy and on edge because the government is looking over their shoulder threatening to shut them down... and perhaps because something is just ... off. Fortunately, Mike has a "unique set of skills" that will help him figure out what is so weirdly wrong....
(sorry, no spoilers ;))
Overall, though not perfect, I still think this is one of my new favorites...
FOUR AND A HALF of five stars (rounded up on sites w/o half stars)