Eversion by Alastair Reynolds
Gollancz, pb, £9.99
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
Silas Coade is the doctor on the Demeter, a sail ship searching the Norwegian fjords for a rumoured passageway to an unexplored lagoon. All the men on board could make their fortune with this discovery. But something is wrong with the mission. Silas keeps remembering events that have never happened and suffering with de ja vu, and the more he explores these feelings, the more he realizes he is more important to the mission’s success than he had previously thought. But does he understand what the mission truly is? And what does Ada Cossile, the ship’s only female, know that she isn’t sharing.
Eversion is told in the first person exclusively from Silas’s point of view. It begins as an 18th-century exploration story, but as the story progresses, the setting alters. This is not a spoiler, as anyone looking at the front cover will reasonably decode that the blurb only tells half the story. Silas is the epitome of an untrustworthy narrator, and it is really well done because when he questions events, we do, too, but when he accepts things, so do we. Silas takes opium, so how much is really happening, and how much is a drug-fueled dream.
This book is not long and packs a lot in, so it moves along quickly. I found this worked well because this book has a lot of repetition, as Silas relives certain moments repeatedly. It could have been tedious, but Reynolds picks which parts he covers and gives new details, which leads along the path of discovery. It isn’t until the last quarter that all the pieces fall together, and everything makes sense. Eversion is a great example of how a story can be told well in 300 pages.
For me, the story lost its way with regard to the reason why Silas refuses to accept the things that are going on around him. Now, I can’t give you any more information without ruining the mystery for you, and I am all about spoiler-free reviews. So, instead, I will say that it just didn’t work for me; it felt like too big a leap from Silas’s perceived reality to the truth. Read it and make up your own mind.
Overall, I enjoyed Eversion. It was fast-paced and thought-provoking, with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, but also with lots of heart and sacrifice. It definitely deserves a place on your bookcase.