cover image Drop by Drop: Step by Step, Book 1

Drop by Drop: Step by Step, Book 1

Morgan Llywelyn. Tor, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8866-7

The catalyst of this unsatisfying near-future narrative, the first SF novel from fantasist Llywelyn (Lion of Ireland), is an unidentified event—referred to as “the Change”—that causes plastic items to dissolve. The post-plastics era of uncertainty is mirrored in the small town of Sycamore River, situated somewhere in the U.S. Llywelyn attempts to show how the residents’ lives are affected by the Change, but the narrative doesn’t always ring true. Jack Reese, a world traveler with unusual skills who feels the need to get to the bottom of every crisis, starts to think about settling down. Unhappy real estate agent Nell Bennett is more worried about her marriage falling apart than her house doing the same. Industrial chemist Gerry Delmonico only briefly complains about losing his job before happily becoming the town’s horse-and-buggy driver. Many others simply go on with business as usual. The intense focus on Sycamore River’s relatively affluent and resourceful residents limits the story’s scope, and the dialogue drags, partly because the characters are discussing complex scientific concepts and partly because everyone sounds the same. The story feels incomplete, and readers are left to wait for a conclusion or a climax—or anything—to happen. [em](June) [/em]