A Book Without Dragons by Olivia Berrier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
With a title like A Book without Dragons you might think this fantasy obsessed reviewer wouldn't be interested. However the premise of Olivia Berrier's story intrigued me. Anytime you can take the concept of time and how it flows, moves, etc. I am game to read about it.
While the plot is simple in concept, it is anything but simple for our characters to navigate. Time has been centralized, to one set of satellites. Almost all electronics have been connected to this set of satellites and so everything now runs off one continuous, 'perfect' system. No one ever has a clock, watch or device that reads a different time, EVER. So what happens when it all comes crashing down?
Obviously if the world were to start to rely on one system for too many things we could be in big trouble. What happens if the system is hacked, overloaded or otherwise fallible. Then what? No more time. But in Berrier's story it's not just no more time, it's no more medical devices working, refrigerators, water systems, electricity, etc. EVERYTHING that could be hooked up is hooked up to this one set of satellites and so taking it down, more or less, takes down all of society across the Earth.
I love dystopian books, so there was no doubt I was game for A Book Without Dragons. Even if the spoiler in the title is true. There are no real dragons in the book. As with most dystopian books we see the crumbling of society when time 'stops working'. I think a lot of writers have finally figured out that the best way to write a dystopian novel, is to focus on the characters and how they handle the situations given. As opposed to focusing too much on events themselves.
The characters and their treatment is the true genius of this book. Berrier has five main characters that include a child and a dog. Yes that's right a dog! I love the dog's simple perspective and his way of 'learning' information that people are thinking because he hears what they say when no one is around. This is a clever device to give the reader information without having to have the character disclose it to someone else in dialogue (and to get it second-hand from outside their thoughts).
All of the five characters were really well-written. I loved each of them in their own way. And hated some aspects of each as well. And of course, as all good writing does, these five stories pull together at the end for a final climax.
I've left out a ton of juicy tidbits about Berrier's novel as I don't want to given even a hint of anything away. But I will say that the time crisis may seem easy on a dog, a bit complex for a child, more complex for a husband and at ultimate complexity for the person that created the time singularity (if you will) to start with. Entwined into this brilliant story is a mystery, complex feelings, desires to make the world a better place, and a rubber ball that the dog loves.
What I will say is that this is a shorter read and it is well worth the time. I loved it and cannot wait to read more from Berrier in the future. Although I am hoping that her next book has actual dragons in it (lol).
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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