Snapshot: a short, sweet and twisty way to introduce yourself to Brandon Sanderson

Snapshot by brandon sanderson book review

What is this about?: Two detectives working the beat in a Snapshot, a recreation of the world during a specific day, usually to catch a criminal.

What else?: Nope, everything above is all you’re going to get from me.


If you could re-create a day, what dark secrets would you uncover?

From New York Times #1 bestselling author Brandon Sanderson comes a detective thriller in a police beat like no other. Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz are the only real people in a city of 20 million, sent there by court order to find out what happened in the real world 10 days ago so that hidden evidence can be brought to light and located in the real city today.

Within the re-created Snapshot of May 1st, Davis and Chaz are the ultimate authorities. Flashing their badges will get them past any obstruction and overrule any civil right of the dupes around them. But the crimes the detectives are sent to investigate seem like drudgery—until they stumble upon the grisly results of a mass killing that the precinct headquarters orders them not to investigate. That’s one order they have to refuse.

The hunt is on. And though the dupes in the replica city have no future once the Snapshot is turned off, that doesn’t mean that both Davis and Chaz will walk out of it alive tonight.

Film rights have now been optioned by MGM, with Broken Road Productions and Entertainment 360 producing.

Stars: 4/5

I decided to make this my introduction to Brandon Sanderson and I have to say I am a convert.

I also have to say this one is going to be shorter than usual because this story is a mindfuck, and you’re not going to want too much detail.

So, this is the set-up:

At some sort of point in the future, the technology is created to, well, re-create a day to solve crimes.

Consider: a murder happens. Cops have suspects, but they don’t have enough evidence to convict. So they create a snapshot, and send two cops into the snapshot to observe the suspect and to find the evidence the IRL (yes, that means exactly what you think it does) cops to catch the killer.

There’s a legal system built up around snapshot cops, and it’s part and parcel of every day life.

Davis and Chaz are the snapshot cops in this story, the only real people in the story. They’re investigating a case when they find a bigger, worse case to investigate. Someone is killing people, specifically embalming them so as to make it hard to impossible for IRL cops to use a snapshot to find him. But, Davis and Chaz find themselves tailing a suspect, and blowing open a case they never should have been investigating.

While that case will play to what’s real and what’s not in this world, there’s a deeper question going on: what makes IRL any more real that the world of the snapshot?

The dupes – the affection term for the people within the snapshot – are living their life and when they’re told they’re not real, their life crashes down around their ears and they’re expected to deal. It’s cruel, but it’s part and parcel of this future.

Davis and Chaz are the odd couple if ever there was one – Davis not being aggressive enough and Chaz being too aggressive. Sanderson follows Davis, letting us into his life and his fears, in a world that forces him to re-rexamine everything about himself. It’s powerful, thoughtful writing.

And then Sanderson fucks with your mind. Yup.


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