This is a reaction to Colin's review of The Long Earth. He will be posting his reaction to my review soon.
I'm kind of glad that Colin and I had slightly differing opinions about this novel because otherwise this would be a very hard reaction to write. Well, no, I think overall we had pretty much the same opinion; it's just the little things.
The problem with The Long Earth is definitely the dissonance between the long reaching and pretty epic possibilities allowed by the idea of the novel and the seemingly narrow main plot that goes along with it. I think we both pretty much agreed that the main plot dragged a bit. I thought Joshua and Lobsang were likable, if a bit boring at times but Colin pretty much didn't like them. I can see that, though. The characters are hard to relate to and I think I was only won over by a few dialogue exchanges that made me chuckle. If that hadn't of happened, I would be as stone faced as the rest of them.
I think the biggest difference Colin and I had about Long Earth is the inclusion of small chapters about other people. Colin felt that they were never "fully developed" and he would like to see them as "an actual addition to the main story." I see where he's coming from but I disagree. Because, in a way, they do add to the main story. Characters that have their own chapters are mentioned in passing in other chapters and add to the world creation of the novel. Beyond that, they allow the authors to explore aspects of the Long Earth that Joshua and Lobsang, by their natures, would never have encountered. I thought these bits were some of the best parts of the novel but also, that's probably the sci fi geek in me coming out.
Colin doesn't think he'll read the sequels but I think I probably will. I think we both kind of felt lukewarm on this novel and that's understandable. It was a good book with a ton of flaws. I think what I'm discovering doing this duel review thing is less about the books and more that Colin and I have remarkably similar taste. :)