An idealist from Montana takes on the Washington machine in this near-future novel.
Jacob Ross came to D.C. to help freshman senator Frank Tomlinson write a comprehensive energy plan that will help the country deal with climate change and prepare for the future. He’s got the ideas, and he’s got the passion. What he doesn’t have is any idea how to get things done in this town. But he’s about to get a crash course in politics—the dirty kind. Jake’s up against the oil lobby, the farm lobby, and most dauntingly, the powerful senator known as the Little Saint, Mario Santino. Santino doesn’t like any plan the oil and coal lobbies don’t like, and he definitely doesn’t like Jake. And people who don’t like Santino don’t tend to get very far. Unfortunately, neither does the action in this slow-paced novel. Bova (Transhuman, 2014, etc.) spends far too much time explaining and overexplaining how the hard-nosed horse-trading of D.C. politics works and not nearly enough time developing a sense of the personal stakes for his hero. While there’s futuristic technology here, the story itself is really about the politics, and few readers will be as surprised as Jake seems to be by the idea that D.C. runs on self-interest and sordid deals.
With higher stakes and a faster-paced plot, this could have been a gritty political thriller. But as it is, it’s a thriller without the thrills, bogged down in talk instead of action.