Review

The Traveler

by John Twelve Hawks


"These days people are frightened of the world around them, and
that fear is easily encouraged and maintained. People want
to be in our Virtual Panopticon. We'll watch over them like good
shepherds. They'll be monitored, controlled, protected from the
unknown. Besides, they barely recognize the prison. There's always
some distraction. A war in the Middle East. A scandal involving
celebrities. The World Cup or the Super Bowl…Fear may induce
people to enter our Panopticon, but we keep them amused while
they're inside."

Before novelist John Twelve Hawks's prodigious debut even hit the
shelves, there was a flurry of reviews and articles speculating
about the author's actual whereabouts (Where exactly is a person
when he's living "off the Grid," and if he is truly "off the Grid"
like he claims to be, how did he get a novel published?); whether
the story was true or a work of fiction (the setting is eerily
reminiscent of today's post-9/11, hyper-sensitive society); and
whether Random House's guerilla marketing campaign (a simulated
TRAVELER game online: www.traveler-book.com, fake-but-real websites for
organizations mentioned in the book: www.evergreen-foundation.com and www.hollismartialarts.com, anonymous postings on
literary and science-fiction blogs) was feeding the well-deserved
fire or merely causing conspiracy theorists and cult
mystery-suspense lovers to scoff at the blatant rip-off of a
Blair Witch Project-esque hoax.

Now that THE TRAVELER has been read by a wider and ever-expanding
demographic (it already has been optioned for a major motion
picture and promises a larger audience with the release of the next
two volumes in the trilogy), and its reputation has grown through
word-of-mouth and the aforementioned targeted media blitz, one
thing is fairly certain --- there is something for every reader to
grab onto and run with in these fast-paced and captivating 450
pages.

The premise of THE TRAVELER begs to be described in what by now
must be a well-traveled (no pun intended) analogy: The
Matrix
meets 1984 meets War of the Worlds meets
"Alias," with a bit of spirituality, morality and philosophy
scattered throughout. Like any self-respecting science-fiction
phenomenon, this multi-layered thriller spins an intricate tale
involving tiered realities, alternate worlds, and various
characters who are able to travel between these worlds while
battling Evil, embracing Good, and attempting to keep the Power out
of the hands of the corrupt who are, unfortunately, in the
majority.

In Hawks's version, this tried-and-true recipe plays out as
follows. Gabriel and Michael Corrigan are two of the last known
Travelers in existence. Like their father, who disappeared during
their childhood, they have the ability to pass through various
levels of reality in order to obtain enlightenment and use this
knowledge to help others do the same. Because their abilities are
so valued and rare, the Corrigan brothers must be protected by
Maya, a Harlequin (think twenty-something rogue spy with black-belt
ninja skills), in order to prevent the Tabula (Big Brother) from
capturing the two and using their transcendental powers to
brainwash the unsuspecting "normal people" (i.e. average,
law-abiding citizens) who already are under constant surveillance
through computers, electronic tracking systems, and strategically
placed cameras. In a series of high-speed chases, combat-riddled
action sequences involving swords, and a couple of pulse-thumping
cliffhangers, these three groups continue to duke it out until the
end, which, of course, is to be continued.

Sound familiar? It should. Our reality? Maybe. A gripping read that
may or may not inspire heated discussions involving the phrase "the
Man"? Definitely. Because of its accessibility --- you don't
actually have to be into science fiction to enjoy this novel
--- and its all-too-real exploration of a society blocked in by the
rules and regulations of the all-encompassing Grid, THE TRAVELER
may just be the next bestseller.

Reviewed by Alexis Burling on January 23, 2011

The Traveler
by John Twelve Hawks

  • Publication Date: June 28, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 038551428X
  • ISBN-13: 9780385514286