Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Day One
No one can remember anything–who they are, family and friends, or even how to read. Reality has fragmented and Earth consists of islands of rock floating in an endless sky. Food, water, electricity–gone, except for what people can find, and they can’t find much.
Faller’s pockets contain tantalizing clues: a photo of himself and a woman he can’t remember, a toy soldier with a parachute, and a mysterious map drawn in blood. With only these materials as a guide, he makes a leap of faith from the edge of the world to find the woman and set things right.
He encounters other floating islands, impossible replicas of himself and others, and learns that one man hates him enough to take revenge for actions that Faller can’t even remember.
Faller’s premise is definitely unique, which is why I was drawn to it to begin with, and for the most part the story lives up to it. The chapters alternate between the man who calls himself Faller, and a man named Peter Sandoval, a Nobel Prize winning physicist who’s developed a technology which could literally save the world. Peter’s chapters are set in a not so distant future from our own, where World War III has broken out over depleted energy sources. These are truly frightening because you can see this coming to pass. Faller’s chapters are set in the aftermath of the mysterious events that led to everyone’s memories wiped and the survivors living on all these different fractured “worlds”. These narratives seem unrelated at first, but they soon begin to converge much like a giant jigsaw puzzle, answering the most burning questions including who Faller really is. While I don’t read a lot of science fiction, Will McIntosh is one of my favorite authors in this genre because I know I can always count on something completely different from what’s already out there and Faller is a perfect example of why he’s such an appealing author. While the world-building here is incredibly detailed and takes center stage, the story itself is filled with characters who are relatable and believable. What kept this from being a perfect read for me were several questions that were never answered. For example: No matter what world Faller landed on, everyone spoke English. And, everyones autobiographical memories were wiped clean, but they do remember how to perform functions like opening cans and using weapons. They don’t know how to drive vehicles or read though. This made no sense to me. There’s a few other burning questions I have, but I can’t really list them here without including spoilers. While I was frustrated by the lack of logical explanations concerning these, the rest of the book is so well-written that this didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of it. Faller is a real page-turner that looks at everything from quantum physics to cloning, singularities, bio-weaponry, the ethics of using this technology and of course, the apocalypse. Somehow, McIntosh manages to juggle all these topics without slowing down the story one iota. If you’re a fan of science fiction and you haven’t been introduced to the incredible mind of Will McIntosh, I urge you to try him.