Graham Moore: The Last Days of Night

New York, 1888. Gas lamps still flicker in the city streets, but the miracle of electric light is in its infancy. The person who controls the means to turn night into day will make history—and a vast fortune. A young untested lawyer named Paul Cravath, fresh out of Columbia Law School, takes a case that seems impossible to win. Paul’s client, George Westinghouse, has been sued by Thomas Edison over a billion-dollar question: Who invented the light bulb and holds the right to power the country?

The case affords Paul entry to the heady world of high society—the glittering parties in Gramercy Park mansions, and the more insidious dealings done behind closed doors. The task facing him is beyond daunting. Edison is a wily, dangerous opponent with vast resources at his disposal—private spies, newspapers in his pocket, and the backing of J. P. Morgan himself. Yet this unknown lawyer shares with his famous adversary a compulsion to win at all costs. How will he do it?

In obsessive pursuit of victory, Paul crosses paths with Nikola Tesla, an eccentric, brilliant inventor who may hold the key to defeating Edison, and with Agnes Huntington, a beautiful opera singer who proves to be a flawless performer on stage and off. As Paul takes greater and greater risks, he’ll find that everyone in his path is playing their own game, and no one is quite who they seem.

I just came out of #DiverseAThon, and while I did not read near as many books as I wanted to, I can wholeheartedly say that I am judging books by a very different ruler now. I had so many amazing discussions last week. Unfortunately, the very first book I had on my schedule this week was The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore.

Granted, Tesla does have obvious OCD and a Serbian accent–that is the only diversity in the book. And the rest of the characters spend their time mocking him. Not so enlightening for a book about electricity and lightbulbs.

I really wanted this book to be interesting. Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse. The three biggest brains of the age. You’d think a historical fiction novel about those guys would be thrilling, but no, it is the same historical fiction format I read every single time I request one of these. Fictional main character–used to highlight real people–has ALL the problems, and falls in love.

I understand why authors use a secondary character instead of actually writing about the real person. Sometimes it is hard to learn enough to really write a good meaty novel with intrigue and suspense. But it’s also just not the story I want. And without any diversity at all…no thanks.

Maybe I’m just tired and need to take a break from this genre for awhile. This book has a ton of great reviews, so I am in the minority on “did not finishes” here. I still want to learn about these great men, but maybe I’ll have to look up some nonfiction on them instead.

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This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Random House for an unbiased review. It will be released September 20, 2016. This post does have affiliate links.

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