Editorial Review: The Prometheus Effect by David Fleming
A debut novel with a remarkably detailed and well-developed story, David Fleming put the fate of the world in the hands of a 5-year old and succeeded.
Set in and around Las Vegas, Nevada, in the not too distant dystopian future, the fate of the whole world is in the hands of a precocious and hyper-intelligent 5-year old boy – and his teddy bear. Though the main character is 5 years old, this is not a children’s book. The story follows the process of protecting the earth from its most destructive inhabitants -- humans. The Age of Oil is coming to an end, fossil fuels have all but destroyed the planet, and the solution to this might come at a terrible cost.
Though the book is told from multiple viewpoints, we spend the most time with Mykl. Mykl only has his mother, and when she dies, he is shipped off to a government-run orphanage which is overcrowded and ruled by completely unfit adults. The planet is overrun with unwanted children and the adoption system is broken. Internationally, countries are openly at each other’s throats and will do anything to protect their interests – no matter what that means for the rest of the world.
When Prometheus gave humans fire, he took a huge risk - what if humans would just burn everything down? Fleming seems to have run a thought experiment on this premise, taking into account the political climate since the 1940’s and the state of world affairs, and turned it into a book. Some of the characters feel a little shallow initially, though you do come to love them as you get to know them better.
The pacing of the book is great, it hits a perfect balance between page-turning urgency and detailed world description. Fleming's use of descriptive language creates a vibrant world, but doesn’t overshadow the plot or the characters. Despite being a technically long book, the 500 pages don’t feel dense and heavy thanks to the gripping plot. This particular brand of dystopia is haunting because it feels all too likely, tapping in to fears that people all across the world share.
The Prometheus Effect is a work of fantasy, though it starts out more like a murder mystery, and delves into science fiction, all wrapped up in a dystopian adventure story. The book covers multiple plot lines told from multiple points of view. Yet somehow its complexity never devolves into confusion.
Fleming has pulled off something rare with The Prometheus Effect. Whether you are a science fiction fan, fantasy reader, or just have in interest in politics or philosophy, this book will be of interest to you. The atmosphere is a curious mix that reminds of Ender’s Game, Mercury Rising, and a good old-fashioned serial killer hunt. The Prometheus Effect is not a light and fluffy read, but the story is so engaging and well written that it crosses genres successfully – whether or not this was intentional.
David Fleming’s debut novel is a triumph, The Prometheus Effect is gripping in the extreme and almost impossible to put down until you reached the satisfying ending.