Wednesday, January 28, 2015

REVIEW: Legion 1 and 2 by Brandon Sanderson
Legion and Legion:Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson
Original Publication Year: 2012/2014
Genre(s): Mystery, Science Fiction
Series: Legion books 1 and 2
Awards: None
Format: Audio
Narrated by: Oliver Wyman

Stephen Leeds is a celebrity detective or problem solver.  His success and celebrity are due to his unusual mental and sometimes even physical abilities. The blurb explains him thusly (from 

Stephen Leeds, AKA 'Legion,' is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills.

He must live in a house large enough to accommodate all his hallucinations or “aspects” and he must employ staff that don’t mind delivering lemonades to his imaginary friends.  Besides this, he is actually fairly sane and functional.  It’s almost as if his intellect is so vast that he must file pieces of it in separate hallucinatory personalities.  There are strict “rules” about what his aspects can and can’t do and how he interacts with him.  We meet him when he is a well-established oddity and world renowned Private Investigator of sorts with lots of back story.  Psychologists drool over him and journalists want a piece of him so he’s somewhat reclusive and very picky about what cases he will take on. 

The first book, Legion, is a novella at only 88 pages in length.  It feels a little bit like Sanderson just taking an idea for a spin.  Stephen is called in to investigate the disappearance of a scientist and his camera that can take pictures of the past.  The scientist is hoping to use the camera to somehow prove once and for all whether Jesus died and then rose again therefore proving (or disproving) the validity of Christianity. Controversial stuff.  And the company he works for wants him and the camera back.  Both books in fact deal with Corporations, technology, ethics and intellectual property issues which is …interesting.

Skin Deep is still short but is a full novel length at 208 pages. In this book Stephen is hired by an old friend, a flashy Korean businessman, to find the corpse of one the employees of a high tech company in which he is a large shareholder. The company is investigating how to use the human body – its cells and tissue – to store data.  The missing body of the employee was potentially storing important and secret company information.

The most interesting thing about both books is really how Stephen’s mental condition works and how he interacts with his aspects.  The mystery plots are complex with a good bit of action and satisfying conclusions.  However the real mystery is the question of why Stephen is the way he is and is his condition more than just a mental aberration?  There is an underlying through line in both books about his aspects doing new and troubling things – does this represent a change in his mental state or is there something else entirely going on?  That is what really engaged me and why I will be picking up the next book in the series.

That being said, these were just so-so reads for me.  For some reason Sanderson and I just don’t click.  His characters ring a little false to me and the humor is dull and obvious.  I am pretty much the only person on the planet that feels this way and I wonder if part of the problem is the narrator.  I listened to both of these (as well as one of his other books Mistborn) and the narrator for each had this very hearty superhero voice.  I will try any future books in print and hope I can develop a better relationship with Sanderson since he has quite the backlist!

FINAL VERDICT:  Interesting concept that makes the books verge on a one trick wonder but the mystery storylines, and the concept are interesting and complex enough to make them worthwhile reads.  3 out of 5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment