"Doorways in the Sand" - Book Review

Doorways in the Sand
by Roger Zelazny
1976

Our main character, Fred Cassidy, has spent the past 13 years avoiding graduation by repeatedly changing majors at his university: his uncle's will stipulates that he will be fully supported until he graduates. He's very intelligent and - at this point - very well educated. He's also a huge urban climber, scaling every building on his campus and many others besides. But a duplicate of an alien artifact on loan to Earth vanishes from his apartment, and everyone wants it and seems to be willing to commit mayhem to get it ... and they all think Fred has it.

The story is told from a first-person point of view, and the wise-cracking, well-spoken and slightly sarcastic viewpoint of Fred is a pretty good way to read a story. Except that nearly every chapter begins with him explaining some horrible crisis situation he's found himself in, and then jumping back hours or days to explain how he got there. This is a relatively common literary device, and used sparingly it's okay (although I've never liked it much). But used constantly, it causes significant problems remembering where you are if you put the book down for more than a few hours: it was kind of a pain in the ass to read. And the deus ex machina reappearance of one of the characters near the end of the book was also unimpressive - and unexplained.

Despite my annoyance at the over-reliance on a couple unnecessary literary devices, I still enjoyed the book: it's a pretty good story.