THE ECHO by James  Smythe


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Dysfunctional…People…in…Spaaaace! For the second time in a projected four-book series, Smythe demonstrates why it’s a bad idea to shut up virtual strangers in a tin can with an unclear directive.

The Ishiguro vanished on its journey to examine an anomalous area of space. Readers of The Explorer (2013) know that everyone died except for journalist Cormac Easton, trapped within the anomaly and looped in time, observing the tragedy over and over. Twenty-three years later, scientist twins Tomas and Mira Hyvönen head a new mission to explore the anomaly. Tomas remains on Earth at ground control while Mira, the narrator, travels aboard the spaceship Lära. Mira is physically, socially and emotionally clumsy, ill-suited to heading an expedition into unknown territory. The brothers believe they have considered every contingency, that their mission will succeed where the previous one did not. Of course, things go terribly wrong—again and again—as the crew becomes ensnared in their own series of devastating time loops. Both novels in the series resemble a bleak cross between Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit and the film Groundhog Day. These works share a common theme—that the protagonists’ psychological problems and moral failings led to their predicament; the only way to escape is to confront those problems and strive for redemption. Sadly, Mira is no Bill Murray.

Nicely written and thoughtful, but two more of these literary variations on a morbid theme may be far too much of the same for readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-228728-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2014


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