Title: Summerland
Author: Hannu Rajaniemi
Genre: Espionage Thriller / Alternate History / Supernatural Fiction
Pages: 304
Rating: 3.5 of 5
Future Release Date: 6/26/18 (Thank you to the author and publisher for a free eARC through NetGalley…this does not affect the content of the review)

The overall plot of this book follows a mole hunt on the order of LeCarré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. However, in this alternate 1938 death is merely a transition into a different dimension (or something) that still interacts with the world of the living. “The Great Game” continues on both sides of death as the British and Russian Empires vie for supremacy with the Spanish Civil War as their chessboard.

I won’t go into much detail about how Summerland (where dead Brits go) and the Presence (the Soviet collective afterlife) work because gradually discovering how this world operates and what kind of effect the meaninglessness of death has on society is half the fun. The actual spy storyline is well-plotted, incorporating historical characters and events and heading in an unexpected direction by the end.

Unfortunately, there were a few issues with the writing style that detracted from my enjoyment of the book: weak characterization that made it hard to tell characters apart, stilted dialogue due to no one using contractions, and too much time spent on our protagonist’s relationship woes. Some of that may be my own personal preference or exhausting schedule lately, so don’t let me discourage you if this sounds interesting. The author has created a fascinating world, and I would love to read another book set there.

7 thoughts on “Espionage & the Afterlife

  1. Definitely not for me. Stories where death isn’t the ultimate cutting line wear me out. Because honestly, what’s the point of dying if it isn’t? 😀

    Glad to see you enjoyed it as much as you did though. I’ve always felt that 3 stars or above isn’t wasted time and that is as important as the story itself to me (sometimes anyway!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, sir. How much attention she put into her relationship status and all the issues that came with it was pretty intense, wasn’t it. I still really loved how the author incorporated his vision of the afterlife into this espionage story. The details were amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Yes, the world building was phenomenal! If he writes another book set in the same world, I’ll probably read it. For me, creative coherent world building covers a multitude of sins 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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