Christopher Priest has quickly moved his way to becoming one of my favorite writers after reading his books The Prestige and The Inverted World. So I had high hopes when I picked up one of his more recent works, The Separation. While this Priest novel is a masterpiece in its own right, I found it fell a little flat when compared to his other works.
The Separation is a cross between a sci-fi and alternate history novel. It tells the story of two twin brothers during World War II – but here’s the twist, in one timeline the British and the German’s come to an armistice in 1941. The two brothers play a major role in the way these events take place.
One of the things that I appreciated about the first two Priest novels I read was how they were both artistic and entertaining. While The Separation certainly wasn’t boring, it wasn’t overly exciting or engaging. This is not the kind of novel that is impossible to put down. The story is excessively slow and some scenes are retold time and time again which slowed the tale down even more. Things do not really pick up towards the end and the conclusion of the book fell a little flat.
Priest’s writing is as strong as ever which is one of the high points of this novel. The words of this book are simply beautiful at times. The plot, though not exciting is interesting and beautiful. There is a strong message of pacifism weaved throughout the novel that was rather compelling despite the fact that I disagreed with the points being offered.
The narrative was strong; however, it seemed as if Priest was copying his own work, The Prestige. Much of the story is told through journals and letters – most of which written by the two brothers (the main characters). This is awfully similar to The Prestige and I felt Priest could have been more original with this work.
The Separation certainly isn’t bad – in fact, it’s quite good. It just seems as if Priest could have done a better job with this book. Yet, it is still a masterful work of art and I would highly recommend it to all fans of the writer as well as sci-fi and alternate history fans. There are certainly better novels out there but this one is definitely worth a read.
Content: PG-13 for thematic elements and some violence and brief sensuality