The Endless Vessel

Harper Perennial. Jun. 2023. 464p. ISBN 9780063043046. $30. SF
In Soule’s (Anyone) dystopian time-travel novel set in a world that resembles our own, depression and hopelessness have become an incurable epidemic, and many of the afflicted have embraced nihilistic acquiescence and work to usher in humanity’s extinction through deliberate terrorism. Lily Barnes remains unaffected, however, and is developing environmentally conscious technology—that is, until she discovers a device so advanced that it shouldn’t exist. Hidden within the device is a cipher so familiar to Lily that she follows its clues across time and space, a journey that may reveal the key to humanity’s survival. Opening with the Louvre in flames, the book wastes no time in presenting a chaotic world mere days away from its collapse. Even the smaller elements of the narrative suggest a frenetic race against the clock. Fortunately, compelling characters and brilliantly positioned narrative shifts focus on rich character development as much as progressing the story from one plot point to the next.
VERDICT Exploring the necessity of human connection with incredible depth, Soule serves up a delightful cocktail of dystopian and science fiction, with elements of historical fiction as a cherry on top. Recommended for, but not limited to, fans of Dan Brown’s “Robert Langdon” series and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.
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