Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon

Always assume there’s someone after you. That was the paranoid wisdom her mother had hardwired into Jasmine Towne ever since she was a little girl. Now, suddenly on her own, Jazz is going to need every skill she has ever been taught to survive enemies both seen and unseen. For her mother had given UJazz one last invaluable piece of advice, written in her own blood.

Jazz Hide Forever

All her life Jazz has known them only as the “Uncles,” and her mother seemed to fear them as much as depend on them. Now these enigmatic, black-clad strangers are after Jazz for reasons she can’t fathom, and her only escape is to slip into the forgotten tunnels of London’s vast underground. Here she will meet a tribe of survivors calling themselves the United Kingdom and begin an adventure that links her to the ghosts of a city long past, a father she never knew, and a destiny she fears only slightly less than the relentless killers who’d commit any crime under heaven or earth to prevent her from fulfilling it.
--Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, Copyright © 2008 by Bantam Books

My Review: This is the first book written by critically acclaimed dark fantasy authors Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon. Being the out-of-order person I am, I read their first book second and their second book first (or is it the other way around in reverse?). They’re independent novels in Golden and Lebbon’s Hidden City series, so the order in which they’re read doesn’t matter.

As writers, Golden and Lebbon craft an extremely well-written, well-crafted story with plenty of tension and action. The action begins on the very first page and the pacing, though a bit slow in one or two places, keeps moving until the final page.

The story itself requires a bit of suspension in your belief system. In running for her life, Jazz happens to stumble upon this group of urchins and Harry, their Fagin-esque leader. When Harry is attacked, he says it has to be the work of the Mayor’s men, trying to clean up the city before he runs for re-election. Harry obviously believes this, but Jazz doesn’t and neither did I. And to find out one of the attackers happens to be one of Jazz’s “uncles” further stretched the bounds of credulity for me. BUT, having said that, without this coincidence, there is no story.

The coincidental meeting between Jazz and Terrence, however, is completely credible to me and forms what I feel is the true backbone of the story. In a somewhat roundabout way, Jazz and Terrence eventually get to the truth, the heart of old London, and uncover its deepest, darkest secrets, including that which links Terrence to the “uncles” to Jazz. The ending is swift, sweet, and with just a few loose ends that no one will really mind much.

One thing I can say for certain, no matter where you are in the story, if you think you know what’s going to happen next, you’re wrong.

Mind the Gap is a very good story, made more for the late-teen/early adult audience, though older adults who enjoy dark, urban fantasy should also enjoy it.

I give this story THREE STARS.

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