Thursday, December 3, 2015

Weighing Shadows, by Lisa Goldstein (author), Natasha Soudek (narrator)

Audible Studios, November 2015 (original publication October 2015)

Ann Decker is a young woman with no family, no friends, and no real prospects. An orphan raised in foster care, she didn't make it to college, but she's very good with computers, and has a job in a computer repair shop. She avoids attention as much as possible.

So she's not happy when she notices a woman following her, and is even less pleased when the woman comes into the shop and asks for her by name.

Ann is about to be recruited into Transformations Inc., a company using time travel to attempt to change history to ensure that resources, and human civilization, last beyond the 2370s. Or at least, that's what they say.

The time travel is real. After her training, Ann's first assignment is in ancient Crete.

And it's in Crete that she encounters her first reasons to question the real intentions of the company.

Ann is a character with some real flaws and weaknesses. Her life hasn't disposed her to either trust others, or concern herself with other people when it conflicts with her own interests, and Transformations is the best job she's ever had. She really doesn't want to rock the boat.

But Gregory, a very slightly more experienced Transformations agent whom she's become friendly with, dies immediately on their arrival in Crete, for no apparent reason. The team's "facilitator," or leader, Emerald Walker, is dismissive, abrasive, and, Ann soon concludes, not exceptionally competent or intelligent. An older, more experienced agent in place in Crete is also suspicious about Gregory's death, and hints to her about a secret organization inside Transformations, called Kore--possibly named for the Cretan version of the goddess Persephone.

When Ann starts to see a pattern to the changes the company makes in the past, and coresspondingly notices her own early 21st century time and place getting worse--more restrictive, more repressive, more shortages, and even more rudeness--she starts to wonder if she can keep supporting the company's program. Yet if she decides she can't, what can she do? How can she fight the company?

The character development for Ann and her friends and allies, and even some of her adversaries, is very good, but Walker seemed a bit too unintelligent to be believed, even with the constraints the company is apparently facing. The plot moves, and kept me guessing, and the past cultures visited were portrayed with understanding and subtlety.

Overall, a very good read, or listen, even if it may not make my Hugo nominations list.

Recommend.

I received a free copy of the audiobook from Audible in exchange for an honest review.