Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Review: The Thousand

The Thousand is a novel by Kevin Guilfoile. Guilfoile has written for McSweeney’s, Salon, The Morning News, and The New Republic. This is his second novel – his first was Cast of Shadows.

This was the first book I’ve read by Guilfoile.

The Thousand draws on events that happened back in 530 B.C. A mysterious ship appeared off the shores of Croton and people on the ship addressed the frightened crowd. What they said is unknown, but a thousand men and women formed a cult and followed them. Now, in the present day, descendants of The Thousand, who are advanced in math, science, music and philosophy will do whatever it takes to conceal their existence and power.

One young woman, Canada Gold, who has amazing mental abilities is haunted by her father’s murder. She also gets caught up in the violence between members of The Thousand who are fighting amongst themselves. They want to kill her. One person wants to save her.

It’s touted as a “thriller,” “suspense,” “part dystopian science fiction,” and “erudite, propulsively entertaining.” I’m afraid I did not find it any of those.

The first half is slow as molasses. I liked the character of Canada “Nada” Gold. She’s very interesting and has unusual gifts, such as being able to read lips from far across the room. I would have been happy to stay with her throughout the book. But, finally, well after page 100, we began to get into The Thousand, although they are never really front and center and it’s unclear what ominous powers they have.

While Nada is trying to figure out who killed her father, The Thousand are trying to kill her. Note that we never actually see The Thousand, only a handful of them, so we have no idea how far they stretch through society or politics.

I didn’t find The Thousand thrilling or suspenseful. But that’s just me. I bet I could Google The Thousand and find tons of people who loved it.

But I have to give The Thousand a What the Hel?
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FTC Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Alfred A Knopf/Random House, who did not ask for a review. And who will probably never send me another book. Ah well. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. But it might be yours. It received advance praise from Sara Paretsky, Stephen White, James Rollins, and C.J. Box, all fabulous writers. I just think if the cover says it’s thrilling and suspenseful, then it ought to be. So that’s why I say, What the Hel?

20 comments:

  1. It sounds more like a fantasy history lesson. It's an interesting premise but if it doesn't move quickly I'd fall asleep while reading it. :)

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  2. I kept thinking, when is something going to happen?

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  3. I appreciate your honesty in this review. It's kind of surprising to come across a slow-moving book like this when we so often hear the importance of hooking the reader and moving the story along!

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  4. I recently read Daniel Silva's Moscow Rules. Same thing. Supposed to me suspenseful. But waiting for something to happen the entire book. It just went on and on. I mean, Russian mafia, international crimes, etc. I still have to read the ending, but it was so slow and boring that I moved onto something else.

    Stephen Tremp

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  5. Stephen, you might as well read the ending. You've already put in the work and deserve the pay-off.

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  6. thanks for the heads up. I hate boring books!

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  7. Love your honesty, Helen.
    Karen

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  8. I tell y'all, I really stressed over writing this review. I hate to sound negative. I'm sure there are lots of people this would appeal to. It wasn't all bad; it just was not what I expected from a thriller/suspense with such praise from other authors. I think this may be the first negative review I've written.

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  9. I haven't read The Thousand yet, but I read his first, Cast Of Shadows. Good, with surprises. I'll give this one a go and see how it rolls for me.

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  10. It sounded like an interesting premise - too bad it didn’t follow through with the suspense.

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  11. Helen, I'm with you, if it's touted as a suspense/thriller, then it had better have those strong elements. The suspense shouldn't be, *so when is something going to happen/*

    I like the premise, but I've had to read enough yawners of late I'm particularly thrilled to read a thriller that doesn't.

    I like your rating: what the hel? lolol!

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  12. Jennifer, I hope you let me know how you felt about The Thousand. Maybe it's just me. I hope you like it.

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  13. Probably not a book for me, but I enjoyed your disclaimer >:)

    Cold As Heaven

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  14. Helen, I have a great backstory for you! I saw this author at a book festival right before Cast of Shadows came out and his agent was touting his book as the next best seller. I was doing a lot of booksignings at the time, so a month later, I saw this guy's book appear on the best seller rack. Two weeks later, it was gone! (Guess it wasn't really a best seller.) I always wondered what happened to him...

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  15. The thing is, Diane, if he did make the best-seller list, no matter how briefly, he'll be able to call himself a best-selling author from here on out.

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  16. It is so disappointing when a book does not live up to the advance praise, or even a great opening chapter that can be captivating. This book even has a terrific cover, but that can't make up for what is lacking on the pages.

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  17. Having failed to slog through one book and then dragged myself through a second recently, I appreciate your honesty. Please book, suck me in right away or I may have to quit. There's not enough time anymore.

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  18. I haven't read "The Thousand" yet, though I did read Guilfoile's earlier book, "Cast Of Shadows," and it took a bit to get going then I was truly taken in by it.

    He's very good at humor, too.

    Jennifer "Madame" Perry

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