I am getting into Science Fiction, and making a larger effort to insert it into my reading list, as I feel I have been neglecting the genre recently. As such, I was given a review copy of Central Station, by Lavie Tidhar, by the wonderful publishers over at Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. The novel focuses on Tel Aviv and the Middle East, and is certainly different from my usual forays into Science Fiction. Central Station is a hybrid between a traditional novel and an anthology. The book follows the stories of several immigrants who have come to make a life at Central Station, a massive space station and elevator in the Heart of Tel Aviv. Some of the POV’s are there to reap the profits of the station, and some are their to break their backs and starve in ghettos while they build it. The book is an eclectic collection of all sorts of people that have their lives impacted by this important portal into space.
The true strength of these stories is in the world building. There is an overflowi of incredible concepts and worlds stuffed into Central Station that will entice anyone who has even a slight bit of imagination. The book has great takes on tons of classic sci-fi topics like virtual reality and cyborgs, but also brings a lot of its own original ideas to the table. Much of it comes from blending Middle Eastern culture with the science fiction genre, which I have not seen before (though I am sure exists). The stories are not very uplifting. The book seems to emulate many literary classics that speak of the terrors immigrants face when fleeing to new and unfamiliar surroundings, but set within a science fiction backdrop. While there is a bitter sweetness to many of the tales, I found it mostly depressing.
While the strength of Central Station is its world, its weakness is the people who inhabit it. The book changes POV often and I got the sense that it was trying to use immersion with a variety of individuals to get you to care about a people as a whole. However, I never spent enough time with one character to build a real emotional connection, and it resulted in my not caring that much about the people as a group. Central Station feels like it is trying, unsuccessfully, to juggle too many things; establishing new worlds, while flying from character to character to flesh out an entire people.
In the end I loved the places that Central Station took me, I just found I didn’t care about the people that inhabited them. With a more centralized cast and more cohesion I feel I would have liked this book a lot more. However, my issues with Central Station stem more from personal taste that issues with the book itself. While I didn’t love it, if books that aren’t character driven interest you I recommend you check out Central Station by Lavie Tidhar.
Rating: Central Station – 6.5/10