CRYPTIC IS THE KEY WORD HERE
Willoughby Von Brahmer is almost 16 years old now. Since before he was out of diapers, he could recognize and analyze sequences and patterns in his environment, particularly those mathematically based. He is a prodigy, a savant really, and his accomplishments have netted him both wealth and the attention of some very influential and secretive personages.
Sydney Senoya is another teenage prodigy – a musical virtuoso. Her talent and her mesmerizing performances have made her a fortune and her talent extends to the mastery of multiple languages. She is also being watched.
James Arthur Washington, aka Dr. J, is older than Willoughby and Sydney, but not by much. However, he became a medical doctor before he became an adult, specializing in healing through energy points. Now whether he is also a rich doctor is not told, but he is quite athletic, is a bad singer and has a smart mouth with few filters. And his watch is over; he’s been recruited.
Our main protagonist is Willoughby, with Sydney and Dr. J as major support. Joining this group is Antonio Chavez, a middle aged nautical and spatial engineer who works undercover as a barber. Rounding out the main cast is Hathaway Simon, a man of very indeterminate age, who runs Observations, Inc., a very secretive, scientific think tank which does a whole lot more than “think.” And this organization has a very, very big problem on its hands that it feels can only by solved by Willoughby, with the help of Sydney and Dr. J.
So we have three child prodigies, a spatial engineer, an ageless CEO, a secret scientific organization with massive financial resources, and a big problem – an undefined, CRYPTIC problem. And we also have a story that is beyond convoluted.
Not only is the story cryptic, its genre is just as hard to pin down. On one hand it is science fiction, with constant and deep references into higher mathematics, spatial dimensions and holograms. Then it becomes fantasy with the spatial dimensions warping into time travel, rifts, prehistoric creatures and Nostradamus. From there, we have to add in the horror genre as we encounter demons, zombies and even a smidgen of the Devil. The paranormal genre gets a tag here also with the seeming immortality of several characters and the out-of-body nature of several events. And we can’t forget YA – the main characters are teenagers, prodigies and savants they may be, but still teenagers.
By the end of the book I was just shaking my head in confusion. And it was not the heavy-handed info dumps referencing mathematical principles or the winding, disjointed treatises on time and space correlation that created that confusion. I simply couldn’t determine what the author considered the point of the story to be. The title of the series is “Cryptic Spaces,” and the author took “cryptic” to a new level.
There were too many characters doing too many things with too little explanation as to motive or intent. There were too many scenes, that when completed, left the question of its importance, why it was included. And when explanations were forthcoming, they embodied that term “cryptic” in spades.
It took me fourteen days to read this book; my normal time for a book of its length is three days. And it was not just my frustration with the lack of clarity that made me keep putting it down. It was also the characterization, or lack thereof. With the exception of Willoughby, no one else was given any real depth. While we heard what they said and saw how they acted, we weren’t given a clue as to what they were thinking or where they were coming from in their responses. This made it difficult to get invested in them as characters or even care if they survived.
So, if I can’t see the point of the plot and I can’t see a reason to care about the characters, I can’t see a reason to read any further novels in this series.
I received this book through the Goodreads First Reads Program. That fact in no way influenced my opinion of this book.
Cover Art from Goodreads