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Reykjavik: A Novel by Tom Maremaa

On My Kindle BR's review of REYKJAVIK: A NOVEL by Tom Maremaa
Revenge is a dish best served cold and … on ice. Preferably, spiked with a bitter taste of family betrayals, geopolitical conflicts and memories, all starting in Reykjavik, in the land of ice and volcanoes.

Tom Maremaa’s daring, provocative novel begins on the day President Reagan is shot when Dylan Rose, a young rebel without a cause, undergoes a major change in life. He must grow up and choose to follow the events of the Cold War, leading him in time to the Reykjavik Summit between Reagan and Gorbachev in October, 1986. As a young journalist, he comes of age, and begins a quest that takes him to all corners of the globe.

History pivots on the promise of the Summit while the Cold War leaders struggle to reach an agreement on limiting their staggering and deadly arsenals of nuclear weapons, with the world teetering on the brink of Armageddon. Astonishingly, the agreement hinges on a single word. Is that even possible?

But there’s more to come, like Dylan’s chance encounter with his former teacher of Russian from Berkeley, a woman of remarkable intellect, a brash and brilliant woman, on the eve of the Summit. And her secret fling, which he later discovers, with a chivalrous Soviet nuclear scientist whose loyalty to his Kremlin masters is destined to come under fire.

That’s just the beginning of this rich and engaging family chronicle, with roots in Nabokov, Pamuk and Tolstoy, as recounted by the journalist — a novel that spans more than four decades of geopolitical turmoil and strife.

Reykjavik: A Novel takes us beyond the events of the Summit in Iceland, as we witness the fall of the Berlin Wall and eventual dissolution of the Soviet empire. History unravels when the Soviet Union comes apart, unleashing a fusillade of dark, violent forces. Oligarchs appear and take control. The teacher of Russian finds her life turned upside down in the years that follow, transformed forever. Intrigue and espionage play out — with devastating consequences — on the post-Cold War stage between America and the new Russian Federation.

In the end, as readers, we come away from this richly detailed novel having experienced the world of love and geopolitics in ways we haven’t seen or felt before.
Source: I read this book on Kindle Unlimited and opted to post a review.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Politics
Pub. Date: October 10, 2018

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What starts out as a coming-of-age novel for a young journalist, Dylan Rose, quickly turns into a different kind of story when he meets a former professor at the Reykjavik Summit. Rather than following Dylan's journey into full adulthood, readers will learn about the professor's upbringing during the Cold War and how the fall of the Soviet Union will affect her and her new family.

The novel sets up Dylan as the main protagonist in the plot; however, I didn't think that Dylan was developed enough as a character to be considered the main protagonist. I felt that Dylan's role in the plot was more of a narrator role, rather than a character who significantly affected the storyline. Oddly enough, Dylan's former college professor takes on the role of the main protagonist as readers follow her story from early childhood into the novel's present time. This causes the story to change from a coming-of-age novel into a story about how a civilian managed to find herself in the middle of tensions between the U.S. and Russia. It becomes a story about how a family is affected by the geopolitical environment before and after the Cold War. While this is a compelling story and the professor is a far more engaging character than Dylan, the author's intent for Dylan as a character doesn't quite match the role Dylan plays in the plot.

As I also read the Kindle Unlimited version, I am able to make knowledgeable observations regarding the book's editing. The lack of quotation marks in the dialogue coupled with how the dialogue was formatted made it difficult to discern who was saying what. While I can understand not wanting to use quotation marks for long dialogues, changing the font and line spacing would go a long way towards increasing readability.

I'm not quite sure how to feel about the book overall. I enjoyed some aspects of the plot while others fell a bit flat for me. All in all, I think it's a decent novel but not the kind of book that appeals to me. It may appeal to readers who enjoy political fiction.

Find Reykjavik Online!

About Tom Maremaa

Tom Maremaa is the author of twelve novels, including most recently "Reykjavik." His earlier novels include "Rule of Law," "Grok," "Imagined," "The Lottery Ticket," "I Am Marjan," and "Metal Heads" from Kunati Inc, which was publishd in the Spring of 2009. "Metal Heads" was nominated by the American Library Association (ALA) as one of the Notable Books of 2009 and received a starred review in Booklist. All titles are available at and Barnes and Noble in ebook format.

He has also written a number of nonfiction books. An honors graduate of Dartmouth College, he studied languages, literature and philosophy at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, as a James B. Reynolds Scholar, and worked on his Ph.D in comparative literature at the University of California, Berkeley, as a Ford Foundation Fellow before beginning his career as a novelist, playwright, and journalist.

He has written for The New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, West, Conclave Journal, among other publications. Growing up in a multilingual family, he is fluent in five languages, including Estonian, as well as many programming languages.

He works in Silicon Valley as a software engineer and lives with his wife in Mountain View, California. He travels widely to learn about and understand as many cultures and languages as he can.
Book review of REYKJAVIK: A NOVEL by Tom Maremaa