Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free, bite-sized book/magazine reviews.
I love Joe Hill but at this point, one can't help but get the feeling that he's slowly becoming overhyped. The true test, of course, is to judge him by his latest work. Gunpowder starts out strong with some interesting passages and scenes. I was actually surprised to find out that Hill was writing science fiction but he seems to fit in just fine. With regards to this book, I have certain reservations. I don't think this is Hill's best work but the story is well-written. There are some portions in which Hill does more telling than showing but considering the length of the work, it's understandable. There are some opportunities where he truly shines, such as showing us a facet of human psychology and behavior: the way the children in the story truly feel about each other for example.
What makes Gunpowder work however are the viewpoint characters. Hill's choices are apt and immediately wins over the reader's sympathy. While there are some ho-hum scenes, there are also fantastic ones where the author let's loose and exposes raw, human emotion. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and again, perhaps it's not the highest point of Hill's fiction to date but it's not his lowest either. It certainly has an upbeat pace that'll make sure this book will be consumed in no time and the ending reminds me of one of the better elements of space opera. It's also not a stretch to imagine Gunpowder being expanded in the future, whether as a full-blown novel or via sequels.