cover image The Violent Century

The Violent Century

Lavie Tidhar. Thomas Dunne, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-06449-3

Tidhar (Osama) introduces people with supernatural powers into the wars of the 20th century in this disappointing alt-historical. A machine created in the late 1930s by the German scientist Vomacht sent a wave of changes across the entire world, granting random people unusual abilities. Henry Fogg, who can control foggy weather and is recruited by British intelligence services, witnesses crucial parts of WWII up close, until his own loyalties are tested for the sake of a beautiful and superpowered woman. Fogg and the rest of those changed turn out to be immortal, but WWII casts a long shadow over the next 60-odd years, and Fogg takes a long time to come to terms with his secrets. Tidhar’s well-researched book never becomes more than the sum of its sources. His characters are too flat and his plot too derivative to bear the emotional weight of the real-world horrors that form the bulk of the narrative, and his attempts to manipulate superhero archetypes never quite gel. (Mar.)