The Affinity Bridge by George Mann (2008)
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Reading Time: 08/05/16 – 21/05/16
The Affinity Bridge has hung over me on my to-be-read shelf for a while now. I bought it a few months ago and thought it looked like a quick and exciting read. However I have to say that if it wasn’t for the sunny weather I may not have finished this when I did. Having recently read The Strings of Murder, which follows a similar premise of slightly sci-fi themed murders set in Victorian times, this book was a little too familiar for my liking. I often felt like I was reading the same novel, not that there is anything wrong with that – but I found both books started to drag a little.
This book was a purchase that I thought would bring me back to the genres I used to read about in my childhood, steam-punk, magical worlds. But I felt the key plot of this novel dragged along at a pace I was not keen on. The two main characters; Newbury and Hobbes were easily likeable, however I felt I knew little about what they looked like and what they were really like as characters. I initially imagined Newbury as an older male character, but as the novel went on it was easier to envisage him doing all of these tasks as a younger man. It seemed the reader was expected to already be familiar with these characters, there was little in the way of an introduction to them.
The treatment of Hobbes in this novel really annoyed me, a woman in Victorian England working on the field with a detective. I know that this is not the norm for this day and age, despite the prominence of a very powerful female Queen. But the constant references to Hobbes’ gender really bugged me – it was as if she could not be expected to do anything deemed dirty or violent and was instead seen as a burden in these situations initially. In a world with such developments in technology (far beyond realistic expectations of the time), is it really necessary to present female characters so stereotypically?
Other reviews have said that this novel was too formulaic and I think I agree. It was ticking all the boxes for steampunk conventions, but with no room to imagine anything else within this world. Everything was themed around the technology and this was the leading storyline. As previously mentioned there was never enough time to get to know and bond with the main characters; perhaps because of the focus of setting up the plot and settings more than the characters.
I gave this novel a three star on Goodreads, but with reflection I think I would dub it a two and a half. It got me interested and at times was fast paced, but over all I felt it was repetitive and dull – more could have been done with it.