I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with Black Creek, but I liked the sound of the blurb, which promised some kind of strange, time-spanning mystery. It was pretty vague as to what that mystery would entail, but I can safely say that the actual development was about as far from my mind as was possible to get.
Black Creek explores a strange phenomena that spans across time. In 1890, the mayor of a declining industrial town is desperately attempting to keep his community together while also trying to get revenge for the death of his wife. In 1972, an inexperienced con-artist finds herself in over her head when a supposedly easy job goes wrong. And in 2020, a vigilante prowls the streets of Pittsburgh, killing and injuring petty criminals. In the build-up to the 2020 elections, these stories will come together with world-changing consequences.
I will tell you straight up that that description I wrote above, based largely off of the blurb that I read, is more than a little misleading. That description covers the first third of the book. After that, it becomes Mad Max with dinosaurs. I can’t say that I was expecting it at all, and I can’t help but wonder if a lot of readers will be put off if they were looking to read something more mundane.
The overwhelming impression that I got from Black Creek was one of a book that had a lot of ideas, but wasn’t polished enough to really pull them off. Ideally, it needed more refinement before it was released, to iron out some issues that get pretty glaring as they mount up. For example, going back to the blurb there, it sounds very much like the events of 1890 and 1972 will be really important and influence the later events of the novel. They were disappointingly unimportant to the wider scheme of things. The 1890 section introduces a character who turns up later but isn’t hugely important, while the 1972 section could probably have been cut in its entirety without any real damage to the plot’s integrity. I feel like they could have easily been glossed over with a paragraph or a chapter at most, so that more time could be dedicated to some of the more interesting ideas that get dropped by the end because there’s no time left. For instance, there are a handful of supernatural characters introduced, one of whom has only just figured out their powers and their impending immortality. It’s implied that she’ll have to make some tough decisions in the near future, but the book never addresses it because hey the main plot is over. Another of the supernatural character muses over his nature and contemplates whether he could be a god incarnate. Also never goes anywhere, because it’s not useful to the plot. It’s really disappointing too, because Black Creek could have been a really interesting and unusual look at the pros and cons of immortality, but it ends up being poorly implemented and frustrating to read as a result.
There are a lot of ideas here that could have been great if expanded on and refined, but as it stands it’s a disappointing hodge-podge that is trying to be too many things at once. I can see the misleading blurb putting off more than a few potential readers as well. 2/5
Next review: Battle Angel Alita Volume 1 by Yukito Kishiro