Review copy provided by Tor Books. Also the authors are friends of mine.
This is the sequel to The Incrementalists. While it refreshes you a bit on who is who and what is what–enough that you don’t have to reread the first volume recently or have a crackerjack memory to get it, but in my estimation not enough to start here. The character relationships are key, and the character relationships have a lot of their resonance starting in the previous volume. What’s the deal with Ren and Phil? why does everybody keep trying to stifle Irina? It starts earlier than this volume to make a lot of emotional sense.
This is a series about a secret group of immortals changing things in small ways–incrementally–behind the scenes of history. And this book in particular focuses a lot on the concept of making things worse to make them better. When does that work? When is it a terrible idea? This book takes that on using various scales, personal, internationally ideological, state and national scales in between.
There are a few missteps (if no one in my house gets what you’re going for with a Negro Leagues [baseball] analogy, probably you can’t bet on that line working with a ton of other people), but they’re small caveats with a core of the book intact. One of the great reliefs of the Incrementalist series is that the characters all want to make the world better. They disagree on how, and there is no overarching authority to tell them how to use their subtle powers and version of immortality to make it all work out right. There is no one answer. But they keep working on it. Maybe you need something like that right now.
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