The Hollow City by Dan Wells

The Hollow City - Dan Wells

Rating: 2.5-3 stars



Brief Book Description:

Michael Shipman is on the run. Pursued by "The Faceless Men", a secret organization who covertly monitor him through electronic devices such as cellphones and televisions, he finds himself trapped in a hospital with no memory of the past two weeks. Not knowing who he can trust, and desperate to uncover the truth and thwart their diabolical “Plan”, he must find a way to escape before “They” find him. 

To make matters worse, authorities suspect Michael may have a connection to a serial killer; a killer who mutilates the faces of his victims.

Oh, and one more thing, Michael is a paranoid schizophrenic.

But is it real?  Or is it all a delusion of a troubled mind?  Michael must find the truth before it is too late. 


My Thoughts:

This is such an interesting story.  For some reason, the tone of it reminded me of a M. Night Shyamalan film – I could definitely see MNS being interested in producing and directing the screenplay.  Anyhoo, this is my fifth Dan Wells novel, and while there are some aspects of it that I really liked, it still landed at the bottom of the list as my least favorite of the bunch.  It pains me to say that because I have become such a huge fan of his books, and normally this particular type of story is right up my alley, but it just failed to make the same impact as the other novels.

As always, the writing is excellent. The characterization of Michael is also excellent. Dan Wells handles Michael’s illness expertly – there were moments where I felt just as disoriented as Michael. Being in his head was a trip. It was believable, realistic, and handled with sensitivity and humor. However, as fascinating as Michael’s story was, I couldn’t quite make a connection with him. I did care for him and was anxious to see where this all lead, but he never quite became “real” to me. There were moments where I felt sort of detached and wasn’t as emotionally invested as I would have liked to have been.

I liked the plot but it took a long time for things to really happen. There was a large chunk of the book, I would say the first 30% or so, where we spent most of our time in Michael’s head without any real development. Normally that’s fine for me since the character was coming from such a unique perspective but in this case I started to get a little impatient. Michael was too passive for the first half of the book and I wanted him to take a more active role in the events of the story.  

There were some good moments of suspense and some interesting surprises. Although, some of the reveals I saw coming quite early on. I think there were moments that could have had deeper emotional impact if certain things had played more fundamental roles in the first half of the book.  I also wasn’t 100% sold on the final third of the story and found myself disappointed by some of the reveals. The final portion just felt incongruous to the rest of the novel.

In the end, while this was as an intriguing ride, I was ultimately disappointed. I felt there was potential for so much more.

So, who would like this novel?  I think if you are a fan of films like Memento you might enjoy this novel.

Final Rating: 2.5-3 stars