SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 1625 Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox, by Christa Faust Book Review |

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Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox, by Christa Faust
Genre: Modern/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Books
Published: 2013
Review Posted: 11/6/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Fringe: The Zodiac Paradox, by Christa Faust

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

I am a huge fan of FRINGE and was disappointed when the show ended.  I was ecstatic when I realized that there would be three books released and immediately ordered all three.  Only the first two are out at the moment, and I've had a chance to read the first of the three.
The premise:  We join Walter Bishop and William Bell (along with Nina Sharp) when they are college students in the late 60s and 70s.  Experimenting with a new acid mixture at Reiden Lake, Walter and William encounter a strange side effect of the mix:  they link minds, and somehow open a portal to the alternate universe.  Before they realize that's happened, someone steps through into our world and for a brief, terrifying moment, they link minds with this man--a cold-hearted killer.  But when the acid trip ends, they decide that the entire episode was simply a wild acid trip, since the man has vanished and there's no sign of the portal.  But years later, they run into the man again, and realize they've brought a serial killer into our world:  the Zodiac Killer.  Now they need to figure out how to send him back, before he kills again.  Only now, the Zodiac Killer is after them.
This book was a mixed bag to me.  For a long while, I was going to rate it as 2 out of 5 stars, not 3.  It was great to get back to the characters from the TV series, especially Walter, who's character is what made the series work in that first season in my opinion.  I liked the set-up of the story as well, considering the mystery that still surrounds the Zodiac Killer.  So playing with the idea that the serial killer came from the other side was intriguing.  The story presented here itself was good.
My problem, and the reason I was leaning toward 2 stars, was two-fold after that.  First, the writing really isn't all that great.  It's decent, and serves the story, but it doesn't have the emotional depth that I like in my fiction.  I wasn't dragged into the emotions of the characters all that much.  Maybe once or twice in a few moments, but nothing like what I expect from the novels I read.  I want to BE those characters, and in this book, I didn't get that engaged.
And the second problem was that the characters just weren't quite right.  William Bell came across as completely flat.  I have to admit that I never felt that the William Bell character in the show was developed all that well either, so maybe my reaction is just a reflection of that.  But he felt like a set piece that was moved around here and there, not really a full-fledged character.  Now, Walter's character felt just like Walter from the show . . . which is the problem.  The entire premise of Walter's character from the show is that BEFORE he had those pieces of his brain removed, he was a rather hard, not very likable person.  Only after the pieces were removed did he become someone that he wanted to be.  This book is set BEFORE those pieces of his brain were removed, but he was the same person he was in the show, not the hard-nosed man he ended up despising (and fearing he'd become again) by the end of the series.  So there was a disconnect with the accepted lore based on the series there, in my opinion.
Nina Sharp's character in the book was great and spot-on, I felt.  Out of the three, she was the best represented.
In the end, I enjoyed the story and the way the author inter-played elements of the show with this past life.  There are plenty of good "connections" that fans of the show can make as the story plays out.  But there were some disjointed elements that I had a problem with (mostly dealing with characters) and the writing wasn't a sharp as I'd hoped.  I'll certainly read the next two books . . . and likely any other books that they decide to release . . . but I'm hoping that the writing and the story lines improve.
Joshua Palmatier/Benjamin Tate

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