There seems to be a trend right now which consists in reimagining classical works of fiction to create a whole new novel giving a completely different point of view or a whole new setting to the story. I have talked with some people about this, and while some seem bothered by this apparent lack of imagination I don’t think it is a negative trend as a whole. There are some of these reimagined worlds which, in my opinion, show a real display of imagination both in literature and in movies (then we have “Hamsel and Gretel witch hunters”, I am still trying to figure out what the heck was that). While not exactly a reimagining of The Time Machine, Hollow World is heavily influenced by the classic novel, especially at the beginning of the story, but goes beyond it to create a brand new story that, even if it isn’t the best book I have read this year, it is quite an enjoyable one.

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Strong points: The characters, the setting of the novel.

Weak points: the developing of the story

Hollow World, written by Michael J. Sullivan, brings us the story of Ellis Rogers, an average citizen obsessed by the theory of time travel who has built a time machine in his garage. When he learns he has a fatal disease he decides to use his invention to travel two hundred years to the future, hopping a cure would have been found by then, but nothing has prepared for what he will find: The Hollow World.

The strongest point of the novel is, undoubtedly, its characters. They are complex beings which offer a faithful reflection of their circumstances and their surroundings; they are a long way from perfection, each of them burdened by the ghosts of his past and the consequences of his actions. Ellis Rogers is an ordinary man, born in the fifties, who has been heavily influenced by his parents rigid education and his view of society his whole life. He is a man whose mistakes have taken their toll and is tired of his present existence, and who sees the time machine not only as a mean to reach salvation from his terminal disease but also as a way to scape his torturous life. He is not a hero, most of the novel he is moved by his own selfish impulses and that gives us a fresh character, an interesting creation who is really an ordinary man forced to do extraordinary deeds. His counterpart, Pax, is not less interesting himself; an asexual futuristic clone in a society where everyone looks the same, Pax’s obsession to be unique is understandable and well written, managing to transmit us a genuine need which will make us sympathy with him. Finally, Ren is also a product of his time and his circumstances, a man who sees his entire life as a failure, blaming those who have surrounded him for it, and who now finds himself with the power to change the world and mold it as it should be; though at some points he becomes superficial, he is able to pick the interest of the readers and sometimes even cause pity.

The future imagined by Mr. Sullivan can only be defined as magical. The Hollow World is a complex creation, product of two thousand years of human evolution, tragedies and historical moments, all of which have been meticulously created and recorded by the author. This social evolution is so well built that it manages to convince us that the Hollow World is the logical conclusion to the chain of events which Mr. Sullivan describes. This result is a completely different society with its own fashion, code, political system and behavior which I found rich and refreshing. It is something completely new, and that is hard to come by.

Some events in the story feel forced and out of place, as if the author had used them in order to create the drama and the suspense he needed and then had forgotten about them. For example, when Ellis Rogers first meet the Hollow World inhabitants they are terrified of him, even saying that some surface dwellers were cannibals; at this point it seems as if the Hollow World will be similar to The Time Machine, telling us the story of a cannibalistic society who preys upon their peaceful neighbors. The thing is that the cannibalistic surface dwellers are not mentioned again in the whole novel and other characters even talk about the surface as if it wasn’t inhabited. Then we have Pax, who has a gift that allows him to emphasize with people, understanding their feelings and how they think, but then feels lonely and is surprised when people tell him he is unique. How can he be surprised when thousands of people think that way and love him for it? There are some other examples which I can’t go into without spoiling the novel. As a result of these events the story is sometimes confusing and lacks sense and continuity, leaving us the feeling that we have read a brainstorm of plot ideas rather than the final product.

The Hollow World has some faults that make it a little bit dense, but in the whole is an enjoyable book which I would recommend to those readers that enjoy science fiction and modern reimagining of classical tales.

FINAL SCORE: 6/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

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