Virtual Evil: Time Rovers by Jana G. Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
While I thought Virtual Evil didn't quite live up to Sojourn, and while I found that it began rather slowly - it felt like a mid-book lull, paving the way before things explode - it slowly got its hooks into me and then got thoroughly under my skin. A tense, entertaining, enjoyable read.
In a lot of ways, I felt Virtual Evil was too obviously a Book #2. It picked up from the events of Sojourn with the sense that the reader should remember everything that happened in the first book. While I don't think everything needs to be recapped, I would preferred a few more refreshers. As aforementioned, it "hung" off the previous plot-points for a while without much forward motion.
Not related to sequel-ness, I also found some irritating technical issues: blatant info-dumpery and mid-scene head-hopping ... which is really a shame, because it undermined one of the best things about the book a little (see below). Until about two-thirds of the way through the book, the time travel element seemed largely incidental, though there were a few little references to it that were fantastic.
That is to say: one of Oliver's special virtues as a writer seems to be the ability to provide the reader with more information than any single character has, while effortlessly allowing you to keep track of who knows - or doesn't know - what, when ... and creating multiple layers of tension from wondering what's going to happen when X, Y or Z finds out about A, B, or C.
The Victorian period here is well-detailed and vivid, with an enjoyable interpolation of early forensics; the characters are intriguing ... the plot a labyrinth with cascading consequences that still continuously lead towards some logical (albiet, at the end of Virtual Evil, still somewhat veiled) conclusion.
As to those that mentioned the cliff-hanger: Y-E-S. I usually don't read a sequel right away, but I may actually break my habit here ... augh!
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