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BOOK REVIEW: The Wave by Walter Mosley

REVIEW SUMMARY: An eclectic mix of several genres that’s entertaining and fun.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Errol Porter’s life changes when he gets a phone call from his dead father.

PROS: A super-quick-read; felt like several novels in one entertaining package.
CONS: Slightly weaker second half.
BOTTOM LINE: A fun ride.

Twenty-six months ago, I read and enjoyed Walter Mosley’s Blue Light. Mosley is widely known in the mystery genre (for his “Easy Rawlins” series) and I wondered if the off-genre book was a fluke, even if it was an entertaining one. Mosley’s new novel, decidedly more sciene-fictiony than Blue Light, is The Wave. I needn’t have worried. The Wave proves that good writing transcends genre boundaries.

Errol Porter, already down on his luck, thinks he is the target of a mean prank when he receives late night phone calls from someone sounding like his father who died ten years earlier. When Errol investigates, he finds a younger version of his father who knows way too many details about Errol’s youth. Errol assumes that the teenager he dubs “TC” is the half-brother of a family that his father kept hidden. What Errol learns about the true identity of TC not only promises to his changes life forever, but could possibly threaten life on Earth.

The thing I loved about this book was how it morphed one type of book to several others. The story begins like standard Stephen King fare (a comparison I also made about Blue Light) but quickly distinguishes itself. When I switched from wondering whether TC really was Errol’s father to seeing the effect it was having on Errol, I thought, hmm, maybe there’s something more to this. I got the same vibe that I got when seeing Field of Dreams or reading Gene Brewer’s K-Pax; it didn’t matter who was telling Ray Kinsella to build it; it didn’t matter if Prot was an alien or a psycho – that wasn’t the point. Same here. The result of TC’s “resurrection” was way more important the reason for it.

But again I was to be surprised as the novel unveiled a twenty-year-old murder. But wait, there’s more! Cue government agents who swoop in and morph the book once more into an X-Files storyline. In one more plot twist, the book becomes the much-loved zombie novel! By this time, of course, my head was spinning trying to get a handle on what was obviously a story superbly crafted to prevent boredom.

By this time only half of the relatively short book had progressed. The genre changes somewhat stabilized after this, and maybe because I loved that part so much, the second half came off as slightly weaker. Which is not at all saying that is was not enjoyable – it was. The story progressed in a logical direction and a satisfying conclusion. There were one or two minor nits that made me take pause – like, say, why the man leading a secretive and high-security operation is a plastic surgeon – but, as stated, these are only minor detractions.

Mosley’s writing style is thankfully quick and to the point. (Just coming off Peter F. Hamilton’s door-stopper Pandora’s Star, this was a welcome criterion.) The down-to-Earth and likable characters were portrayed well; they spoke, acted and reacted in a realistic manner, especially considering that a dead man had apparently risen from his grave. I liked Errol’s relationship with Nella and how it helped heal him during his pending divorce. TC acted exactly like you might expect the recently-resurrected to act, and those behaviors that weren’t expected (like his hunger for sand) were eventually explained to satisfaction. His mystic babble about the “Wave”, an ancient unified force, unveiled just enough details about the threat to Earth to keep you turning the pages.

The Wave is a fun ride.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.
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