My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bleedover is a novel which has elements of both fantasy and science fiction, just the way I like it! Let me start by talking a bit about the concept of ‘Bleedover’ which the author has created. All kinds of art such as books, movies as well as company logos are starting to get altered unexplainably. For example, the text of published books is altered, or new scenes get added to movies. The book’s protagonists find a way to harness this Bleedover and end up bringing the fictional world into reality. Once this fact is accepted, the book becomes a fast paced suspense thriller.
Both the main characters subscribe to different views of what Bleedover is, how and for what it should be harnessed. Both of them live completely different lives. Dr Harriet Sterling is a tenured college professor who lives in her basement office, while Corbin Lyell is the head of a large conglomerate. This is a story about each trying to prove their worldview and their methodologies right. Their ‘war’ ends up hurting a number of people who are caught in the middle, with people ending up dead. The stark difference in attitudes of Dr Sterling and Corbin Lyell is beautifully portrayed. Dr Sterling plays by the rules mostly and is unwilling to hurt anyone in the process of proving her point. On the other end of the spectrum, Corbin Lyell is ready to do anything to prove himself right, including murders. He is so obsessed with beating Dr Sterling, that he ignores all risks and ends up paying dearly for it in the end.
As the story continues, there clashes become more intensive and the use of fictional characters in these fights was quite entertaining. It is something every boy has thought and argued about, who would win a fight between Superman and Spiderman, Fantastic Four and X-Men (Sorry, but these questions are NOT addressed in this book).
I would have given this book five stars if it was just a suspense thriller with some elements of science or fantasy. The writing is excellent for most parts, and the story is well constructed and fast paced, the way all thrillers should be. The relationship of both the main characters was developed in detail, clearly describing the history which leads them to be at loggerheads with each other. I also thought the emotions of each person came out very well (which many science fiction novels lack). The place where I found the story lacking was in the explanation of the concept of Bleedover. It remained unclear for large parts of the book, and how it went from the alterations of media works to the physical manifestation was not well brought out. This being the central idea on which the book is based, it was inexcusable. Also, I got somewhat lost in the pseudo-science as most of the science fiction parts were created rather than being based on scientific fact. I understand that the author had to develop a whole new language for the science stream he created, but here as well, better explanations would have made the story more enjoyable.
Overall, I would rate this book a solid four. However, people who cannot enjoy science fiction should stay away as they will not find this to be light reading, and would end up referencing Wikipedia repeatedly.