Communist China; not something that is of huge interest to most readers. However, debut fiction author Thomas V. Harris is able to draw a reader in with its romanticism and political climate, in a time where politics seem to rule many conversations. Harris, with a degree in politics from Harvard and a specialization in International Law from Cornell, seems qualified to bring us this narrative.
The novel was named after the real-life Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China, a hydroelectric gravity dam with the title of world’s largest power station. Opened in 2003 for power and to combat flooding, the dam is one of the settings used in the novel. But before we make it there, we meet New Yorker Michael Brannigan, a top consultant that helped the People’s Republic of China overtake the United States for top superpower.
Brannigan is a lovable protagonist that Thomas V. Harris developed very well throughout the novel. One slight downfall was that Brannigan was the only character I was able to fully connect with. He had a love interest, Australian geophysicist Kylie Ryan, who was mostly developed. But most other characters were either thrown in for a short period of time or were not terribly detailed. The relationship between Brannigan and Kylie Ryan was well thought out, which I appreciated. Their association was tested by the violence that erupted from the Buddhist and Muslim rebels, and their relationship and Communist China both caught demise.
As for the Three Gorges Dam itself, it seemed to be one of many locations used in the novel. Similarly to the characters, it was difficult to get a full sense of a few of the places that were mentioned. The basis of each location was to describe terrorist attacks that sprung up all over the country, ending at the Three Gorges Dam. Harris is clearly very well-acquainted with the locations that he did develop extensively and with the overall political system that was created. He has a great deal of variety in his knowledge that did not go unnoticed.
In the end, it was a good read. I kept wanting to hear what would happen next. I’m not heavy into politics and Harris was able to get me interested in the plot line, so I call that success.
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More info about Thomas V. Harris and his first novel can be found on his website HERE!