Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden & Tim Lebbon
Even though Mind the Gap is extremely fast-paced, the novel started out really slowly for me and it wasn’t until 160 pages in that I began to get excited about the book. The problem was that for almost the first half it seemed like Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon were just going through the motions, delivering a plot that was one recognizable convention after another:
The protagonist’s mother mysteriously murdered by shadowy people and forced on the run… Raised to trust no one, Jazz constantly lives in a state of paranoia… Discovers a forgotten subterranean Underworld of abandoned bomb shelters and train stations… The whole London backdrop and its ghosts of the past… A group of runaway urchins — and their Fagin-like mentor Mr. F — who survive by stealing from those ‘topside’… Possessing abilities that no one else has…
It wasn’t until the gentleman thief came into the picture in Chapter Eleven that Mind the Gap began to get really interesting. Questions were answered, pieces of the jigsaw puzzle started to fall into place, the intensity and excitement was ramped up, and the novel began to show off some of that imagination and panache that the authors are known for, including a heart-pounding finish — particularly the last fifty pages — of unexpected twists, tragedy, old magic, and rebirth…
Mind the Gap may be the first collaboration between Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, but their writing styles mesh together so well, it’s like they were born to work with one another. Both write with great confidence, possess smooth prose, know how to tell an engaging story, and are vividly creative. Plus, they really complement one another. Lebbon has a gift for evoking the horrific, while Golden knows how to appeal to the younger/mainstream audience, both of which come into play in the novel. The one drawback regarding the authors is their characters. While Mr. Golden and Mr. Lebbon can write well-drawn characters, they tend to lack a certain depth and intimacy and the cast in Mind the Gap is no exception. Other than that, there’s not much to complain about apart from the slow beginning.
CONCLUSION: “It’s now how you start, but how you finish.” This old adage has been applied to everything from life to sports, and it works just as well for a novel. At least for me, I will always appreciate more a novel that starts slowly and ends on a high note opposed to one that starts strongly and peters out at the end. Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon is the former: a novel that takes a while to get going, but when it finally does kick into high gear, the results are spectacular. Because of the terrific finish — and the combined talents of two great authors in Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon — I highly recommend Mind the Gap and have high hopes for the next Hidden Cities novel.
The Hidden Cities — (2008-2011) Christopher Golden with Tim Lebbon. These are stand-alone novels with a similar theme. Publisher: You never know when you’ll find yourself falling through one of the cracks in the world.… Two of today’s brightest stars of dark fantasy combine their award-winning, critically acclaimed talents in this spellbinding new tale of magic, terror, and adventure that begins when a young woman slips through the space between our everyday world and the one hiding just beneath it. Always assume there’s someone after you. That was the paranoid wisdom her mother had hardwired into Jasmine Towne ever since she was a little girl. Now, suddenly on her own, Jazz is going to need every skill she has ever been taught to survive enemies both seen and unseen. For her mother had given Jazz one last invaluable piece of advice, written in her own blood: Jazz Hide Forever. All her life Jazz has known them only as the “Uncles,” and her mother seemed to fear them as much as depend on them. Now these enigmatic, black-clad strangers are after Jazz for reasons she can’t fathom, and her only escape is to slip into the forgotten tunnels of London’s vast underground. Here she will meet a tribe of survivors calling themselves the United Kingdom and begin an adventure that links her to the ghosts of a city long past, a father she never knew, and a destiny she fears only slightly less than the relentless killers who’d commit any crime under heaven or earth to prevent her from fulfilling it.