Mike is a small town English teacher who would prefer to stay a small town English teacher forever. However, an old friend of his has finally found a project that intrigues him enough that he's finally willing to use the abilities he's locked away as much as possible.
Mike is sent to learn as much as he can about the Albuquerque Door project and report his findings back to his friend Reggie, so that an informed decision can be made about whether to renew the project's budget. Mike, with his high IQ and eidetic memory, is uniquely qualified to do this job - he can get up to speed faster than anybody else Reggie might have on staff. And one of the things Mike quickly figures out is that the Albuquerque Door folks are hiding something from him. The Door does exactly what it's supposed to do, allowing people to travel a great distance in just a single step, and the hundreds of tests that have been performed have all gone perfectly. So why is everyone so secretive and so adamant that more tests need to be run?
I've listened to this three times and am just now getting around to writing a review about it. The first time I listened to it was a couple years ago. I knew going in that it was a loose sequel to Clines' 14, which meant that I had a set of expectations as to what the Door was and how things were going to go. The first half of the book didn't compare favorably to 14 at all. It was very slow, and I got frustrated with how secretive everyone was. The second half was more fun and occasionally surprising, considering what 14 had led me to expect.
My re-listens went better than my first time through. The first half wasn't quite so frustrating because I knew going in that it was going to take a while for the characters to let their guard down, and I enjoyed looking for signs of the twist I knew would be happening later on.
Mike's abilities were cool, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they had very little in common with what having an eidetic memory is like in real life. His recall of visual information was perfect, and he could "rewind" and look at any scenes he'd ever witnessed as much as he'd like. He could even take massive amounts of data from documents he'd seen and create graphs and charts with it in his head. The bit with the shooting near the end struck me as a being a bit ridiculous, even with
the setup Clines did earlier on in the book, showing how Mike could throw stuff into a trashcan without looking or move around in a dark room without trouble. Throwing stuff into a trashcan is one thing, but had Mike ever even held a gun before?
Just as in 14, Clines presented readers with a likely love interest for his main character and then paired him off with someone else. The sex scene bothered me even more during my re-listens than it did the first time around, because the detail that Mike missed became even more obvious. I suppose lust shut his brain off?
The monsters were a little cheesy, especially in audio, but I actually thought The Fold's monster part was better than 14's monster part. I did find myself wishing that Sasha hadn't had such a limited swearing vocabulary, though.
All in all, The Fold was pretty good. I felt it was more consistently enjoyable than 14 but that 14 had a much better setup. Crossing my fingers that Clines writes another book set in this world. And maybe allows his next hero to stay single.
Oh, and a slight spoiler: all the animals
technically make it through okay.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)