Finally! It took me two weeks, in fits and starts, to read Brasyl, and then another two weeks to digest it. I have to admit, for a while I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. But I couldn’t invoke the 150 page rule because I liked the first 150 pages. In fact, I liked it while I was reading it, but I found it all too easy to put down, and never felt all that compelled to pick it up again. So what went wrong?
It’s hard for me to put a finger on my dissatisfaction. There are lots of beautiful descriptions and fast-paced action. The story is complex and vast without leaving you feeling lost. You have to admire a book with a freshest description of the two-slit experiment and the coolest explanation of Fermi’s paradox that I’ve seen, along with more cool ideas and entertaining scenes that I don’t want to spoil for you. And yet, it’s a still a book that I admire more than one I enjoy.
I think I just never latched on to a character that I cared about. Marcelina Hoffman is amusing and Father Luis Quinn is intriguing, but as they changed, I thought they became flatter and less human. I was perpetually confused by Edson and his many brothers. I like the minor characters more, especially Fia and the French explorer Father Quinn meets, Dr. Robert Falcon.
It’s still a great book that achieves its ambitions. If ideas, action, and setting are more important to you than character, you’ll probably like this book more than I did. And since the book is so full of great ideas, I was really happy to find a list of further readings at the end, including a cosmology book that my friends have been praising: The Fabric of Reality, by David Deutsch. I wonder how long it will take me to read that?