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Review of Hollow World by Michael J Sullivan


4 out of 5 Stars

I’m trying to decide how I feel about this book. I definitely liked it. I definitely really liked it. But I didn’t love it. I was sad about that, too. I wanted to love it. Sigh.

First and foremost, the writing was nothing shy of brilliant. After reading the Riyria books, I was afraid I’d be faced with something different in Hollow World, perhaps fluffy prose or overly technical sci-fi jargon. I was happy to receive neither. The writing was clean, beautiful, and moving. I love Sullivan’s voice, and for those who feel the same, you won’t be disappointed.

I also appreciated the look at religion, society, and the world as we know it. It was interesting, and I had fun exploring Sullivan’s varying viewpoints of Hollow World. It was a thought provoking read. Again, very interesting.

Now, here is where I get in my own way. I’ve read a few (very, very few) sci-fi books and I’ve yet to find myself a fan of the genre. Matter of fact, there’s only one series I’ve been a huge fan of. The rest are meh and I find my mind wandering while reading. Unfortunately, Hollow World was no exception. The only sci-fi books I’ve picked up are because I love the author. To say Riyria was an incredible series would be a drastic understatement. So being in love with author, I ventured into his sci-fi universe. I can’t fault the book. There was nothing wrong with it. The characters were well developed, the world detailed and rich, and, as I said, the writing stunning… but even with all it’s qualities, I just couldn’t fall in love with it.

So, I’m left with the question of why? Why could I not love it? Honestly, I’m not really sure. I have two theories. 1) It’s a genre that is not my favorite. I’m an old Star Trek movie fan, grew up on them, love them. But I don’t think I’d enjoy the books. I’m a visual person. With fantasy, I’ve seen enough pictures, watched enough movies, that it is very easy for me dive into the world. Sci-fi is so diverse that I, sadly, lack the imagination to totally submerse myself into the world. That’s not to say I had a hard time visualizing the setting for Hollow World. Quite the contrary, actually. But still, there’s something about sci-fi that I just can’t sink into and lose myself. 2) I didn’t fall in love with a character. I liked them all, especially Pax, Vin, and Alva. Yet none of them snagged hold of me. If I’m not hooked on a character within the first quarter of the book, I’ll likely never become fully engrossed in the reading experience. Again, I cannot fault the character development. It was superb. I just didn’t latch on to anyone.

To conclude my ramblings, I think Hollow World was an enjoyable read, interesting, thought provoking, and wonderfully written. There’s some good heart in this book, and I think those who like sci-fi will probably embrace it. As for me, I promise you this: If Sullivan were to ever write another sci-fi, I’d pick it up. I think with him, I’m guaranteed something I’ll really like. And there is always the enticing possibility of falling madly in love with it.

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