Review: The Rise and Fall of Great Powers, Tom Rachman

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Title: The Rise and Fall of Great Powers: A Novel

Author: Tom Rachman

Publication Date: June 10, 2014

Genre: Contemporary (some mystery)

Overview: This novel follows Tooly, a late 30 something who has settled in Wales where she owns a bookstore in a small town. She’s led most of her life nomadically–her father was a U.S. contractor. When she was very young, she was taken from her father’s home and carted around the world with a group of criminals: Venn, Sarah, and Humphrey. Soon after settling down, she gets a call that Humphrey is ill and must travel back to New York, setting off a barrage of questions that have been left unanswered.

For Fans Of: Tom Rachman

World-Building: This book takes place in a contemporary setting. The world, itself, is unaltered save for the feasibility of mid-scale, repeated cons (not a terribly large stretch)

Character Development: There are some characters who really grow in this novel, Tooly first and foremost, and through her eyes, we see a good deal of growth in Fogg (or at least how Tooly comes to perceive him), Humphrey, and Duncan. We find out a lot about the characters’ past and, in a sense, it’s retroactive growth. It’s satisfying, though.

Plot: Some of the plot points seem a little rushed and it can be a bit hard to follow at first. The plot jumps between three different points in time, but after the first few chapters it’s very accessible.

Rating: 4.5 stars

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