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I found Montaro Caine at NetGalley and decided to request it not only because of the author but because the description enticed me. The book is, bottom-line, the story of Montaro Caine's life, the CEO of a mining-chemistry corporation apparently on the verge of loosing its control. As the tale is told, we start to understand Montaro as an atypical individual, with a complicated youth and a grandfather who he sees not only as a father-figure but as a true guide. Simultaneously, the apparently parallel plot starts to be developed, as we read about a child who is born with a coin in her hand. This is what shows we are about to read some sort of speculative fiction and also what made me curious enough to keep reading. Eventually, as Montaro and this coin with impossible materials become more connected, he is lead into some complicated situations all at once, be it negotiations with millionaire collectors, scams and troubles with his family and even the return of people and stories from his own past. Of course all these loose ends come together at an ending that is centred around Montaro, but not at all solely focused on him.
Montaro is a well developed character, with fleshed out motives and decisions, character and imperfections, and interesting interactions with the company, his employees, his family, where he makes sense without seeming too pushed into stuff just for the sake of the plot.
Unfortunately this is all that's good with this book. The issue with the mysterious coin ends up being quite predictable in a very superficial and far from original approach to science fiction. The ending was ruined because it gave centre stage to the worst of this novel, the preaching. The author is quite paternalistic in the way he conveys his message of self-confidence, hope, union and effort, and at times gets close to what Paulo Coelho does on his books (and also, I imagine, to what the Secret has to say). The book is at its best when the author escapes from those moments. One example of what annoyed me is his interaction with his grandfather. Montaro comes with a very objective doubt, a practical issue that he can't find the solution to, speaks with his grandfather who, in a lot of different ways, usually tells him to trust himself and eventually he comes up with a solution. Once this would be fine, everyone needs a confidence boost once in a while, but for this to be the means to solve problems seems to me quite stupid.
There is a very positive message in this novel, one that tells us that we should unite and work together towards our common progress, here conveyed by the coin and science as a means to the betterment of humanity. However, the fact that the author preaches this instead of showing and associates the message with the magical effect of hope and motivation spoils what could have been, at least conceptually, an interesting story. As it is, this is a passable read with a good protagonist which will please those who enjoy the negotiation, bluff and overall playing and taking advantage of each characters' interests but will be below the expectations of more experienced readers - specially in science fiction - and one that I thoroughly do not recommend for people who can't stand preaching narrators.
This review was originally published on my blog in Portuguese and English.