- TITLE: New Pompeii
- AUTHOR: Daniel Godfrey
- PUBLISHER: Titan Books
- FORMAT: Paperback
- PAGES: 464
- GENRE: Science fiction thriller
- PUBLICATION DATE: June 21, 2016
- SOURCE: Titan provided a free copy for review
- LINKS: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Goodreads
The majority of the narrative in NEW POMPEII is told in third person past tense following Nick Houghton, a history PhD student drawn into the world of controversial technology and conspiracy theories surrounding a company called Novus Particles. There is one other point of view following an unknown girl named Kirsten, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
NEW POMPEII is set in three timelines: briefly in ancient Pompeii as Mount Vesuvius is erupting; the majority in near future Europe and Asia; and also briefly in near past London. We follow Nick from his home in London to his research project in Russia, where the company Novus Particles has set up a research facility. This part of the setting is the most important, as this is where the majority of the book takes place.
NEW POMPEII follows Nick through his journey as an almost unemployed PhD student, to the head researcher of Novus Particles and his time at the research facility in Russia where he literally dives into the world of Pompeii, circa 79 BCE. How can he travel to Pompeii? Well, Novus Particles started out as a renewable energy company, but they soon realized that they could go back in time and alter the course of people’s lives – as long as those people were about to die. NovusPart created a city in Russia modeled after what history knows of Pompeii, and sucked the citizens there through time right before their deaths. The company names themselves demigods sent by Augustus Caesar to save them, which they hope will explain away any inconsistencies in the city and their knowledge, and seeks to control and study the lives of ancient Romans, hoping to capitalize on their wares–wine, olives, textiles, etc–and profit in the process. But the Romans aren’t as ignorant as the company hopes, and soon rebellions start to brew…
This is probably one of the few truly science fiction novels I’ve read recently, and while it was a good and I would recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction and fantasy, I did have some qualms with it. Kirsten is a point of view character we follow sporadically throughout the book and after finishing, I felt that her chapters were almost pointless. I understand how her character fits in with the overall arc of the company’s progress, but I also feel that entire POV could have been eliminated and substituted somehow. Nick was a great character to follow. He knew enough about the Roman world to fit in and not look totally out of place, but he was also discovering things as we were, and that made for an interesting read.
As this was a debut, I can’t speak for Godfrey’s writing before NEW POMPEII. I enjoyed his style and sense of urgency, and would likely pick up a book of his in the future. If you like Roman history, science fiction, and conspiracy theories, you’ll enjoy NEW POMPEII. Grab a copy today and let me know what you think!