Published by Pyr
In the second installment of her The Entire and the Rose sequence, Kay Kenyon picks up the plot virtually where she left it in Bright of the Sky. With Titus Quinn’s wife revealed (to the reader) to be alive, Titus Quinn returned to Earth, and their daughter alive and in a strange symbiotic relationship with the psychic Inyx, Kenyon left readers grasping for more at the end of the first novel.
Quinn is indeed back on Earth, but he brought with him a great portend. The Entire’s powers that be are planning to literally suck the life out of the Rose; the Entire’s name for the universe in which Earth resides. This is where Kenyon’s imaginative physics comes into play as the Entire, a parallel universe, is vastly different than ours in that there is no sun at its center to give it light and power. For countless ages, the more advanced civilization of the Entire has been draining the energy of galaxies and universes to power and sustain their own. With “power battery” galaxies dwindling, the Entire has set its sites on the Earth as a potential source. Titus plans to return to the Entire and destroy the machine that will wind up destroying Earth. Not an easy task, nor is it a task he will be tackling alone. Much to Titus’s chagrin, his journey in A World Too Near from Earth to the Entire is not a solo journey. Helice, a young upstart who works for the same company as Titus, manages to convince the company that she needs to go along to make sure Titus completes his task and destroys the power converter, and in essence, the Entire itself.
This is the initial urgency that drives the plot and Kenyon does a great job of maintaining the tension of this throughout the novel. In the initial portions of the novel while Quinn is on Earth, it flavors all of the conversations and many of the interactions. On a personal level with Quinn, he still cannot escape the guilt of feeling as if he left his family behind in the Entire and his only real human “cushions” on Earth is his brother and brother’s family & wife Caitlin.
One of the more disquieting moments occurs when Titus is playing on the beach with his nieces and nephews and a strange man appears on the beach and just watches them, before having a brief conversation with Titus and disappearing. This hints at forces at play against Quinn and the question is raised, maybe teased, that somebody from the Entire might have come over to Earth.
While Titus is indeed the main character, Kenyon also shows his wife’s life in the Entire. In fact, the novel opens with a scene of Joanna Quinn, illustrating the grandeur of the Entire while juxtaposing it against the desperation Joanna feels in an otherwise beautiful place. Joanna’s scenes proved even more emotionally charged than those featuring Titus, there is a great deal of conflict within her and at times, she seems resigned to her fate and has given up hope of a return to the life she knew. While Joanna’s scenes aren’t as frequent as Titus’s, they are as powerful.
While Kenyon explored the characters and landscape in great detail in Bright of the Sky, she draws more attention to the political motivations in the Entire. Furthermore, we see more of the history of the Entire as well as the Tarig themselves. Though not as much of travelogue as the earlier novel, Kenyon does touch upon the details of the landscape and manages to make it work well as a return visit.
I would have liked a little more focus on Sydney, but on the whole, Kenyon balanced the characters in this novel as well as she did Bright of the Sky. The pacing here was a bit slower in spots, but ultimately, I found myself unable to stop reading. As the novel draws to a close, the pressure builds for Titus and for Joanna, making for a briskly paced conclusion that you want to read through fast, but conversely, you don’t want to end. A tease at the end gives readers just enough to crave the next volume.
© 2008 Rob H. Bedford