Thursday, October 3, 2013

Liberation Movements

Liberation Movements is Olen Steinhauer's fourth novel set in an imaginary Eastern Bloc country; each novel has taken a look at this country in a different decade.  Liberation Movements is a bit of an odd duck in the series, for a couple of reasons.  One of the major players is kinda-sorta psychic (her abilities are given a rational basis, but they're still supra-normal), whereas up till now the series has been very much of this world.  It's also set almost entirely outside of the home country of the series.

I think that both of these differences lead to a weaker book than the first three.  Part of the problem, I think, is that one of the strengths of those books was the relentless feeling of suffocation.  By setting so much of the novel across the border, Steinhauer relaxes the tension somewhat; in addition, I found the psychic a distraction, and the "explanation" of her abilities made it worse, because it took me out of the novel while I thought of how implausible the explanation is.

It's still a solid novel, and I'll certainly pick up the last of the series, but it just felt like a let-down after the first 3.

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