The cover, with the classic gaming-like characters on it, suggests something… I don’t know, playful and referential. A fantasy equivalent to Ready Player One, perhaps. And a lot of people seem to have found that in it, calling it “dark and quirky”, noting the humour and the originality of it. I didn’t find it to be so; I could predict each turn of the story, and the characters didn’t endear themselves to me. The set-up is okay: guy has been imprisoned in an alternate realm for years for a crime he didn’t commit, while a changeling lived his body’s life for him. He gets out, he immediately gets set up again, what’s going on?
The story deals with the past framing at the same time as it goes into the current one, and this seems in many ways to be background for a bigger story to do with Finn’s changeling. That aspect of the plot was actually interesting; but the minutiae of Finn’s love life with women he hadn’t seen for years didn’t work for me, particularly not when he’d spent most of his life lying to one of them, and in the meantime they grew up and he didn’t really, and…
I don’t know, ultimately I just felt like it was completely typical, and I wasn’t drawn to keep reading it. I did, because I bought the paperback and darned if I’m going to waste my money, but if it was from the library I might’ve considered just returning it. There was some references to pop culture stuff — Doctor Who, Star Trek, etc — but it felt… incidental, not really integral to the story. A cute nod more than a necessity. Despite my interest in the changeling story, I doubt I’ll be picking up the second book. It just felt too… mediocre.
In fact, I feel obliged to quote: frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.