Tuesday, November 11, 2014

To Parts Unknown by John Anthony Miller

Rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: November 03, 2014

London, January 1942. London Times war correspondent, George Adams, is a tortured soul, devastated by his wife's death and rejected by all branches of the military. Destroyed by events he couldn't control, he can't face the future and won't forget the past. His editor sends him to Singapore, a city threatened by the Japanese, hoping the exotic location and impending crisis will erase his haunting memories. Within minutes of his arrival, George is caught in a near-fatal air raid that triggers a chain of conflict and catastrophes. Injured and sheltered underground, he meets Thomas Montclair, a crafty French spy, and Lady Jane Carrington Smythe, an English aristocrat, who are destined to share his adventures. When a Japanese general is murdered, Lady Jane becomes the prime suspect. The trio flees the enemy and their own troubled pasts, confronting personal demons as well as the Japanese. They chase their dreams and elude their nightmares, evading a manhunt that spans the islands of the southwest Pacific, their lives wrapped in a swirling kaleidoscope of death, doubt, and desire. 

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The jacket description of John Anthony Miller's To Parts Unknown filled me with excited anticipation when I stumbled over the title and I was legitimately giddy when Taylor and Seale offered me a copy for review. Unfortunately that enthusiasm was short-lived as I soon realized the novel wouldn't meet my expectations. I'm not going to beat around the bush folks, so prepare yourself for a brief and blunt analysis. 

I struggled with this piece from the start. Miller fails to develop George's relationship with Maggie so his grief is hard to swallow and Lady Jane has about as much mystic as the tea that shares her name. To add insult to injury, the plot plods along in a predictable and formulaic chain of events that lacked both intensity and tension. Why do I say this? I fell asleep while the plane carrying our heroes was shot from the air in Chapter 14. I'm talking dead to the world, unconcerned, wake up refreshed and whistling dixie type sleep and that just doesn't happen, not to me. 

I'm a WWII junkie, so this title should've been a slam dunk, but in looking at it alongside books like Night in Shanghai and The Gods of Heavenly Punishment, I can't help feeling To Parts Unknown came up short. Simple, straightforward and superficial, I did not enjoy the time I spent with this piece and can't envision myself recommending it forward. 

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Regardless of the commitment I had made to Toby Fields, it did me nor the London Times any good at all if I vanished beneath the boot of the enemy.  As long as there was a war there would be a front line.  I must find it and give the British subjects of the world a window to the war.
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