Book review: Pennsylvania

Book cover for Pennsylvania by Michael Bunker

One of the reasons I like reading short stories is the ability to explore new authors. That’s how I discovered Michael Bunker. A couple of years ago, I read his short story, All I Can Be – A Time Travel Story, and liked it. I liked it enough that I wanted to read one his longer form novels.

Bunker has written a number of books. I chose Pennsylvania. The description looked interesting, it fit into the science fiction genre I prefer, and the reviews were generally positive.

The premise of the book centers on a young Amish man, Jedidiah Troyer, who decides to leave the comfort of what he knows to explore and settle a new planet. Due to the time it takes to reach his destination, he is placed in a start of suspended animation for the duration of the trip. When he arrives at his destination, nothing is what he expected. Instead of exploring a new land, he is thrust into the middle of a battle between government troops and resistance factions where he plays a central role in the fate of the world. Even more bizarre is that many elements of the new land look and feel strangely familiar. And that’s where I’m going to stop so I don’t reveal any spoilers.

I found Pennsylvania entertaining and interesting. Bunker does a good job keeping you engaged. From the moment Jedidiah arrives at his destination, you know something is off, and Bunker does a good job drawing out the ultimate reveal. In between, there was plenty of action in the book where the plot advanced quickly, but it’s mixed in between a number of slower parts that didn’t add much to the story.

I also enjoyed how Bunker uses advanced science fiction topics such as neural implants and time travel in the book. He doesn’t go too deep into the weeds, so you don’t need to be a serious techno-geek to understand the concepts.

Overall, I liked the book, but I didn’t find it compelling. It left me a bit wanting at the end as it felt like the story wasn’t completely finished. There were a few too many loose ends around the characters, the technology, and the overall environment for my liking.

Before digging into Pennsylvania, I might suggest checking out Bunker’s short story, All I Can Be. If you like that, you’ll probably like Pennsylvania. Also note that Pennsylvania is a collection of 5 serials which can purchased individually. You can always read the first one, and if you like where things are headed, continue on with the rest of the series.