Top critical review
McDevitt creates a rich and fertile post-Apocalyptic world, but he fails to harvest its crops.
Reviewed in the United States on August 20, 2007
*Eternity Road* had great potential. As I read the description, I saw signs of an epic end-of-the-world quest tale. Sadly, the writer let me down with missed opportunities to advance the story, underdeveloped characters and plot potential.
There were lots of missed story opportunities and improbable conclusions. He could have spent more time in Chicago with the encyclopedic computer, illuminated the seekers with more knowledge, or at least have them debating the sanctity of Life vs. Quality of Life.
The scholar living in the cyclotron was an idea ripe for expansion, as well as the culture of the `Tuks'. Why didn't one of them join the motley crew?
The author also fills the book with `improbable conclusions', such as...
*There's no history of the prior civilization, only a few legends. Highly unlikely there there would be no florid myths or epic hero stories.
* Although boat making, building construction, gunsmithing and - garment-making survived, electrical, mechanical, and medical knowledge has not.
* Surviving books are rare. Why didn't a copy of The Bible, Torah, or Koran survive along with the faith that humans must have had to get them through the dark times? Or is McDevitt saying that Jesus was already dead" when the civilization collapsed?
* The questers' actions with the Encyclopedic computer was remminiscent of the Mexican bandits scattering all the gold dust in 'Treasure of the Sierra Madre'. Why didn't they ask it the current date? At least they would have come back with SOME useful knowledge. Me, I'd have kept the train running, just in case I had to take it home again.
McDevitt needed a lesson in story pacing. He starts out real slow, takes about 150 pages to get the expedition going, then 230 pages shoots through to the conclusion in thirty pages like a dying salmon.
I was amazed that by page 365 we hadn't yet got to resolving the Haven mystery. The end is forced, accelerated, and skeletal. It was written as if time had expired, as if he had to turn it for grading.
Although he provides characters with promising futures, McDevitt again squanders the opportunities with them to say, think or do something meaningful. He seldom describes what they are thinking or feeling. Even the romance which blossoms on the trek is underdeveloped and sterile, as if written by someone who has never been in love.
As much as I like `end of the world `stories, this wasn't a bad book, nor was it a `masterpiece of literature'. Two, two-and-a-half stars.