Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci takes place in several locations and has about ten POV’s. (Point Of View)  It’s told in first person. Each chapter begins with the name of the character, their location, the date and the time. The main plot is a terrorist group is planning an attack on US soil. A computer spy in Pakistan has been tracking the digital conversations of two of the groups members. When two woman die in a small New Jersey town, three hours drive from New York City, USIC believes they’ve found colony 1. This is where the terrorist plan their first attack, infusing a section of the town’s water system with an unknown agent.

I found the book entertaining and kept me listening. It’s genre is YA, so that should tell you something, about me anyway. As for the writing, I’m not a fan of putting dates and such at the beginning of chapters; however, in this case I can’t see another way the author could have kept the reader straight on who was talking. Telling the story from about ten (5) POV’s made itdifficult  at times to follow. A classic example why it’s usually suggested to keep the character number to a minimum. It wasn’t that there were too many characters, just that so many had a chapter in their POV.

The book read like a journal. It’s this date, time, place, and Ms. Smith is talking.  Again, not my preference, but the author made it work. I always knew where and when we were. I wasn’t always privy as to the why. After finishing the book, I’m still left wondering why we spent so much time in character one’s head at the beginning of the book. She did not, in truth, end up being the main character though I suspect, the author initially thought she would be. Like this summary, I found the story to be all over the board, in that each POV had their own agenda on looking at what was happening. The story itself followed a time line, as the POV’s changed, the new POV picked up minutes after the last. I think the book would have read better if the author had picked one or three characters and stuck with them.

I will add that each character was their own. The voices were individual and their motivations came through clearly. The author did a nice job of developing the characters. You want to root for them all.

Was the book a good read? Yes. Would it appeal to others? I’m not sure that others would have kept going as the characters multiplied and changed. Then again, it was engaging and the story intriquing so, maybe.

 

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