Lockstep by Karl Schroeder
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Jacket Blurb: When seventeen-year-old
Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family,
he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the
planet he’s orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead.
But when Toby wakes again, he’s surprised to discover a thriving planet,
a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still—that he’s
been asleep for 14,000 years.
Welcome to the Lockstep Empire,
where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold
sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Its citizens
survive for millennia, traveling asleep on long voyages between worlds.
Not only is Lockstep the new center of the galaxy, but Toby is shocked
to learn that the Empire is still ruled by its founding family: his own.
brother Peter has become a terrible tyrant. Suspicious of the return of
his long-lost brother, whose rightful inheritance also controls the
lockstep hibernation cycles, Peter sees Toby as a threat to his regime.
Now, with the help of a lockstep girl named Corva, Toby must survive the
forces of this new Empire, outwit his siblings, and save human
Read for June book group.
I'm a bit conflicted about this book. On one hand, it was an interesting premise - a culture of "stepping" through time with the use of sleep beds or cryonics. The McGonigal family has a monopoly on the beds, and all beds are synced. There are those planets and Cities who have removed themselves from the "lockstep" and live on basically a different time line.
Our young protagonist, Toby McGonigal, wakes to find that 14,000 years have passed overnight for him after space debris puts a hole in his solo ship during a routine mission. He finds his younger sister and brother control now the solar system through the cult of Toby as Emperor of Time and the lockstep beds. As he quickly finds out, they would just assume he stayed missing and or dead.
On the other hand, this book was slightly annoying. Toby is the Golden Boy. A very dense Golden Boy who does really stupid things. He was told to his face that after 14000 years, everything has changed and he knows nothing of how the societies work. So what does he do? Run away because he's feeling petulant, repeatedly. I really detest characters who behave stupidly, which he excelled at right up to the ending.
However, if I step back and remind myself that this is a YA book, that it is meant for adventure, excitement, getting to kiss a girl, love and loss, standing up to authority, and redemption, then it's more palatable. A bit reminiscent of Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, the book has it's flaws, but it still provided an entertaining read.
Recommended with reservations.
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