Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GoodReads Review: Madman's Dance

Madman's Dance (Time Rovers, #3)Madman's Dance by Jana Oliver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This, the final (?) book in Jana Oliver's Time Rovers series, brings the events of the previous two books to an explosive conclusion - shapeshifters, time travelers, meddlers from a future beyond, anarchists, and all combinations thereof. As with the previous two books, the majority of the action takes place in Victorian London, with some events in "now-time" from the prospective of the time travelers ... well, the point of view characters who time travel ... there's a dizzying amount of crossover, but it all comes together with crystal coherence in the end.

For the first third of the book, however, I was disappointed by the flow. In Madman's Dance, Oliver does a good job summarizing while still moving the plot forward, but for most of this portion of the book, I felt the characters were almost exclusively reactive, responding to the situation without much agency of their own. I also felt just a bit disconnected from events - I think in good part because Jacynda, who is so vibrant in the first two, spends much of this one profoundly altered and just ... not herself. As a new reader, I would not have been drawn to her. As someone coming from the previous two books, I missed the old Jacynda terribly.

A potential word of caution: while, again, Oliver does a great job filling you in on previous plot points without bogging down in it (which is a skillful feat, given how much happens in those two books that is vital to this one), I think the book loses something for not being read with immediacy. If you're going to pick up this series, I'd recommend going straight through.

But it all turns with Jacynda, and when she gets her feet back underneath her, so does the book ... and the way she leaps back into action is a delight. Her audacity and the controlled (barely) chaos she creates are a pleasure to read. The plot device that damaged her at the end of Virtual Evil comes into play and has intriguing implications in the later portions of the book. The reader learns a lot more about the transitives (shapeshifters), their organization, the Lead Assassin who emerged from the shadows in Virtual Evil ... and their future.

The ending of this book is a pitch-perfect illustration of character and exactly the kind of denouement you would want for a time traveler. It made me want to stand up and cheer. I was never quite sure I bought the romantic storyline here, but I think that's personal rather than anything amiss with the way it was portrayed. Definitely recommended as an ultimately satisfying close to the series.

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