Total Oblivion: More or Less — Alan DeNiro

Occasionally, I read books that make me question my taste in books. They make me wonder if I’m actually as clever or smart as I sometimes like to believe I am. Or are these books that are trying too hard to be clever and falling short of the mark.

I’ve said it often enough here, one of the things that will always have me wanting to read another book by an author (or finish it for that matter) are characters I care about. I’ve put up with some truly pedestrian writing for fantastic characters. Second to that are interesting ideas.

This book was picked up because it sounded like it has interesting ideas. And honestly, the picture painted here is of a really interesting world. For reasons that are never explained, the ancient Mediterranean world and our modern one both seem to exist in the same space/time. Technology ceases to exist in any way we would recognize it. A strange and surreal plague spreads among the population. And our protagonist, a teen from Minneapolis, heads down the Mississippi with her family as they try to make sense of the strange world they find themselves in.

I feel like I kept waiting for the plot to gel and actually take us somewhere meaningful, because I certainly didn’t care enough about any of the characters to compensate for a meandering plot that just kind of fizzles out. From poking around online, it appears that DeNiro’s background is in short fiction—and I can actually see his style being really effective there.