Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★
Snapshot is novella from one of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson. However, it’s not a story I’ll ever return to.
In Snapshot, the police force of an independent city have access to an advanced technology that can recreate an entire day of the recent past. Buildings, streets, food, and even people. A specialized team enters this “snapshot” to gather evidence for a case, trying not to create a ripple effect of changes due to their presence.
Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz enter a snapshot of ten days ago, May 1st, to do some routine evidence gathering. But Davis has been listening to some conspiracy theory chat boards, and he heard that something big went down on May 1st. When Davis and Chaz head to an abandoned building where police were called, they discover that the city is hiding a brutal crime.
Like a lot of sci-fi novellas, Snapshot focuses on a concept. It’s an interesting concept, but it never felt wholly believable to me. I think in part it’s because I never connected with the characters. I’m starting to feel like Sanderson repeats character types. I read another of his novellas right before Snapshot, so I could really see it this time. There’s the hero, who’s probably got some sort of tragedy in his past. For Snapshot, it’s that his wife got custody of their son after the divorce. The hero also tends to be the straight man to some of the quirkier members of the cast. There’s a male sidekick (Chaz here) who’s a bit cruder and more extroverted. Repeating character types can work okay when Sanderson has a whole novel to develop them and make them feel unique, but it can get old real fast in the novellas.
I think I might enjoy Snapshot more as a movie adaption. Maybe directed by Christopher Nolan? It’s really reliant on several twists, which I’ll admit I didn’t see coming, although that might have been due to my state of mind at the time I was reading this. Anyway, I normally love huge twists like this, but for some reason I was never super excited about these. I’m guessing it was because I wasn’t that invested in the story.
If there’s one Sanderson novella I’d recommend, it’s still The Emperor’s Soul. Snapshot wasn’t bad exactly, but I’m not exactly rushing to put it in friend’s hands.