My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Tim Powers is one of my favorite writers, but EXPIRATION DATE isn’t among my favorite of his books.
I’ve started and stopped it several times in the past, but this time I have the next in the loose series, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER to read and I was determined to push through and get to the end. But to be honest, I found it a bit of a slog.
It’s as well written as any of Powers’ books, but I don’t think the central idea of ghosts being able to be caught and sniffed as a kind of psychic cocaine is strong enough to hold this rather rambling plot together. That, and the fact that the main protagonist is an eleven year old kid who gets a ton of shit thrown at him in the story rather turned me against the whole thing from an early stage.
There are some of the great visual touches and dexterity with a sentence that we expect from Powers but too much of the story consists of people going somewhere to get something, then going somewhere else to get something else, then meeting someone who will tell them where to go to get the next thing. It’s like a modern L.A. version of a rather dull Dungeons and Dragons adventure and as such I found myself flicking pages to get to the good bits.
I think the main problem is one of too many point of view characters. We could have lost the lawyer completely from the story and it wouldn’t change it a bit, and likewise the female psychiatrist was often just hanging around to be someone for one of the protagonists to talk to.
Still, even second rate Powers is better than most other things, and there was enough to entertain me to make sure I made it to the end this time.
Onward to EARTHQUAKE WEATHER…