The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Title: The Revisionists
Author: Thomas Mullen
Genre: Dystopian, science fiction
Publisher: Mulholland Books, 2011
Source: NetGalley
Read for: Review

Thousands of years into the future, war has been eradicated. Everyone has mixed into one race. Any past grief is erased by the government. It is the Perfect Present.

In the Perfect Present, the technology to travel through time has been discovered, which means that a rebel political group known formally as the Revisionists and informally as hags (historical agitators) go back through time to prevent horrible events. They want to stop 9/11, prevent assassinations, heal the world. The problem? If those events don't proceed as they did originally, the Perfect Present will be threatened. Enter the Protectors, government officials who also travel backwards through time to prevent the hags from changing anything. Zed is one of those Protectors, but his assumptions are going to be challenged.

The premise of this book sounded awesome. First of all, with the glut of dystopian books in YA fiction, I was excited to read a dystopian novel aimed at adults. Secondly, it has been publicized as a "literary thriller," two words I hadn't ever heard together. My only experience with thrillers are the Dan Brown books about Robert Langdon, and they went like this: The Da Vinci Code: Love at first sight. I couldn't get enough of it. Angels and Demons: Entertaining, but repetitive. The Lost Symbol: Would have been okay if it was a first date, but was dumping material for how far the relationship should have been progressing. So when I heard literary, I thought, hmm, perhaps this book and I could hit it off.

And we did hit it off, at first. I was impressed with the writing. The Revisionists is literary. The writing is clever, and it delves below surface events to examine deeper meanings and repercussions. We aren't just dealing with a barrage of conspiracy theorists, politics, and clandestine killings. We are examining the deeper concept of how the past shapes and influences the future, and where exactly the present stands in all of this. The Revisionists is an interesting examination of the fluidity of time and also the ethics of acting in the past (if such a thing were actually possible).

However, in the end, Revisionists didn't have the "thrilling" aspect that I expected to drive the book. Mullen follows four main characters - Zed, the Protector, Leo, a man who is involved with a secretive political group, Sari, a young Indonesian woman working like a slave for a South Korean diplomat, and  Tasha, a corporate lawyer whose personal sense of ethics conflicts with her employers' ethical responsibilities. They all become entangled in each others' lives because Zed has the obligation to protect an Event of historical significance to the Perfect Present - however, as he interacts with people in the time period he is monitoring, the logistics of the Event are changed and he is led to question his employers, the value of protecting Events, and who is really doing the "revising." For me, everything started to get muddled and murky as everyone was chasing each other around. The interesting premise wasn't quite enough for me to stay engaged. While I finished the book, I was dragging my feet by the end.

While the general idea of the book is interesting, it dragged on and lacked the powerful finish I hoped for with The Revisionists' strong beginning. If you love political intrigue, you may find more to love in this book than I did.

3 stars

Warnings: Brief sensuality, language, gun violence


  1. Ugh! It sounded so good but if it drags I don't think I can handle it.

  2. It dragged a little for me. I'd say it's worth a try but don't feel bad about casting it off if it doesn't work for you. I do know some readers that really enjoyed it - I guess it just depends on the reader!

  3. I've heard mixed reviews of this one. I'm definitely intrigued by the premise. I already have a copy, so I'll be reading it at some point. Sorry it didn't 100% work for you!

  4. The premise does sound really interesting and original, so I think I may give it a try even though it slows down near the end. Great review!

  5. @Erin - I hope it works for you! At any rate it is at least mildly enjoyable.

    @Sarah - It sounds like something you might like more than me, so I hope it works out for you!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...