Book review: Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear

Hull Zero Three by Greg BearThis book is interesting and challenging, interesting in the same way that you might think chugging a bottle of tequila in one go to be interesting. Better leave it to someone else. And the challenging part is to actually muster the will to keep turning over to another page.

In this case the reviewer (me) has chugged this particular bottle of tequila*, but rather than an intoxicating effect and a massive hangover (and possibly a trip to A&E.)
I am left with the feeling of having spent a weekend watching paint dry.

Now I must confess; this is one of the very few books that I have given up on. I have not read it through. Despite encouragements from friends who have also read it and said that it picks up towards the end I still can not bring my self to open up this particular book again. So this review is based solely on the first half of the book. If I however should at some point read the rest and discover that I was wrong about my educated assumptions I will of course post a mea culpa.

The story has potential, and for the first few pages I was interested in what kind of story this was going to be, the problem is that after reading 1/3 of the book I still had now clear idea of what, why or how or even if I should care.

Now I can understand that some stories have a slow build up, that there are methods that authors use to instill uncertainty  in the reader as to what is happening and who we actually are reading about.

But after reading about half the book the thing that I remember most from the book. (after only 24 hours of reading in it last) Is that for the better part of the beginning the main character, who we only get to know as “Teacher” has very few interactions and seems to focus more on his internal monologues regarding his vocabulary and how it is expanding. And/or that he remembers a word, but not quite what it means. And when that is the only part of the story you’re left with after reading well it should give you some idea of how boring I found this book to be.

And the rest of the characters introduced have as much dimension to them as an IKEA flat pack bookshelf, before assembly. There is really nothing more to say about them… I am at a loss to describe them as anything other than lifeless, uninteresting and dull.

Now as I said earlier in this review, there are reasons to build a story slowly but then you need something to keep me turning the pages other than pure stubbornness… this book does not have that. It felt like a chore to read and frankly the only reason I stuck it out as far as I did was that I wanted to be able to write an accurate review. But even that was not enough in the end. Thus I end this review and recommend that you read something other than this book.

If anyone has read this book and disagrees with me please leave a comment detailing why you think I am wrong…

Notes:

* – well half of it anyway, since I did not finish the book… but still it is not recommended; both the book and the tequila.

One thought on “Book review: Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear”

  1. No objections. I made it all the way through, but with no reward. Teacher never ceased to admire his own vocabulary. Other characters grew weirder, but not deeper – or more meaningful at all. I was bored the same way I was bored by Stanislaw Lem’s “Solaris”, and if I ever recommend Hull Zero Three to anyone, it’ll be to devoted fans of the “explore big dumb object” trope… which, I have now learned, I am not. 😉

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