At the outset it is important to state that though a retired science teacher ( physics, chemistry, and biology ) and a biology major, chemistry minor in college, I am not an avid reader of science fiction, other than Isaac Asimov. That being said, I did find this book to be a page turner and finished reading in within a day and a half. And yet, though drawn to know what is going on, at the end I was quite disappointed.
The first chapter is quite a hook. A man returns from a four day business trip to San Diego. His wife, pulling the house together for his arrival, hears the front door open but he does not call out to her nor does he respond to her greeting. She continues to try to get him to respond as she moves about trying to locate him. As the empty house begins to feel strange to her she starts to waver between suspecting he is pulling a prank on her, which he has done in the past, and feeling threatened by the quiet. As she makes a dash to the front door and escape, phone in hand ready to dial 911, he confronts her with a semi-automatic pistol violently demanding to know what she has done with his wife. By the time the chapter ended my heart was racing and every creak and flutter in my empty house was almost deafening in its clamor.
With great anticipation I continued reading as the story shifted and two of the main characters, Reggie and Mike, were introduced at a high school English classroom in Maine, where Mike is the teacher bidding summer farewell to his students. The two men go out to dinner and Reggie, who works for DARPA, a government agency, tries to entice, not for the first time, Mike to work for him. Though Mike has no interest in leaving his teaching or his summer job repairing rides at the fairground he agrees to fly to Washington and hear what this job is about. During the hearing he has been invited to attend in which the agency is trying to decide whether or not to further bankroll a very secret experiment, Reggie claims in an effort to secure the money, that Mike has agreed to go to the site of the experiment and determine what is being done and what, if any, results have been determined. Mike has been blind-sided and cannot easily refute Reggie's claims.
Off he goes to the California desert and a team of scientists who, though they seem to work rather efficiently together, don't embrace his presence which they see as attempting to pry out the secrets surrounding their work on a device which by using mathematical equations has created a fold in dimensions of time and space allowing great distances to be covered in seconds. By passing from one point to another through a series of rings they have dubbed the Albuquerque Door, the scientists have simply walked up a ramp, through the rings and down another ramp at the far side all in a space of seconds. The husband of chapter one had passed through the Door in both directions before returning home, where Mike learns, he is said to have suffered a breakdown and is confined to an institution.
This team, while as I say works well together, is still strangely uninvolved with each other on a personal level. They, other than their director, Arthur, live on the campus where the Door is located in a series of bare bones trailers surrounded by astroturf. There is none of the comraderie of teams isolated from others that I've experienced--no having drinks together or watching TV or playing games. There's donuts and coffee in the breakfast room but they just seemed disconnected. As a result there wasn't a real development of the characters, other than Mike and Reggie who stayed in touch by tablet and Arthur who insists at all times that the oversight committee that holds the purse strings be given no access to the records of their work.
Eventually, it becomes clear that the Door can change the location in time and space of Point B and that what lies in that location can be a threat to our scientists. There is also the possibility of alteration of the team mates when they go through the Door. This last in passing is thrown out to the reader to tie up the loose end of the husband of chapter one--he isn't the same man who left home and therefore does not recognize the woman who is his wife because she isn't--kind of a let down--and oh, by the way, he is released from the institution. By this point the lab is overrun by green cockroaches with an extra leg, who swarm or depart depending on the possible danger to the team. Mike's brain which retains every detail of everything he has ever seen, has red and black ants, figuratively speaking, running like library aides to bring and organize pertinent info as he needs it.
The book ends with battles and explosions and the possibility that Mike will now continue working to combat the establishment of any more doors for all time and oh, yes, he will take one of the team with him, a computer geek, Jamie, who with her cat, Glitch and dog, Tramp, has undergone some changes of her own.
In the end, it was an okay book--not as exciting as the opening chapter would have you expect, but easy to read and fun in its way. Mutants and Star Trek references abound and fiction it is.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.