Brandon Sanderson is definitely a great fantasy author. Warbreaker remains one of my favourite fantasy books of all time and I really enjoyed reading Elantris too. So when I read the blurb for this novella, I was immediately intrigued. Even though it wasn’t really a fantasy book, there were some science fiction elements, which is another of my favourite genres.
The premise of this book was a really interesting one, with two detectives entering a ‘snapshot’ of their world. A snapshot is pretty much a recreation of a day, that law enforcement use to find information for cases they need to solve. While a snapshot could be seen as similar to a video or a tape recording, it’s actually so much more detailed than that, being an exact recreation of the day…down to everyone in the snapshot believing they’re real. However, because of this, it’s also possible for deviations to be introduced, since real world people’s counterparts can be influenced within the world of the snapshot.
At first, the plot of this book seemed quite simple. Davis and Chaz were looking for the location of a gun used to commit a crime in the real world…and then they were stuck there, waiting around for the next case they were supposed to be investigating.
As the book went on, there was a nice thread of tension in Davis’ reactions with his partner. It was pretty clear that Davis was building up to something that was going to happen…and while it wasn’t clear exactly what it was, it was obvious that it was something that would change things entirely.
One thing I found quite interesting was the concept of the badges that showed people in the snapshot they weren’t real. Chaz seems to take an almost perverse pleasure in it, while Davis does feel guilty when he accidentally uses that badge instead of the law enforcement one. I did like that and the other contrasts between the two of them.
The other big plot of this book was the Photographer, whose victims added a deeper element of tension and suspense to the book. While the snapshot wasn’t real in and of itself, what it was showing was real…and it was pretty unsettling to think about that happening in the real world, underneath all of the people going around their normal routine.
All in all, I really enjoyed reading this novella. The world was a really intriguing one and one I would like to see further explored. I’d also like to see more of the characters introduced in this novella and the contrast between the world of the snapshot and the real world. It definitely felt like an introduction to a much wider world.