travelerThere it was – its silvery pinstriped cover, twinkling oddly in the fluorescent lighting, resting atop the black lacquer display shelves before me as I stumbled in the front door. I paused, catching my breath – I could almost see her winking at me from behind the glistening blue sunglass lens, “I’m here, waiting.”

Stepping forward, momentarily detained by the security guard that seemed desirous of wishing me a good evening, I snatched a copy off of the shelves. It was in my possession – that “rumored for months” novel, written by the elusive John Twelve Hawks, with the delectable story-based game companion websites – The Traveler.

I rushed over to the counter, whipped out my Barnes and Noble membership card (really, it’s made me spend more money than it’s saved me. Tricky corporate entities!), saved myself 10% off the cover price, and rushed out of the store, once again being wished a good evening by the kindly guard. It was to be a good night for at last, I had The Traveler in my possession.

Written by a man who, mysteriously, like his characters, prefers to live “off the grid,” The Traveler has been heavily marketed, not by normal means of book readings and public appearances, but rather via a viral marketing campaign, comprised of street teams at concerts, live events, and an internet game, which ARGN and UnFiction have been following.

The book itself, a technological twist on the biblical struggle between good and evil, describes the initial meetings between Maya, a Harlequin sworn to protect, and Gabe, a Traveler, capable of escaping the known world through the power of his mind. Struggling to save himself and his brother Michael, Gabe fights against The Tabula, a Matrix-like entity controlled by a corporation and its scientific research endeavor determined to eradicate all Travelers or harness their powers.

What begins as a personal quest evolves into a rich story, complete with enough twists to satisfy any staunch fiction addict. By the end of the novel, however, the story does begin to slow, if only to allow the author to set up the premise for what appears to be a future series of novels involving the characters described in The Traveler and their exploits in the world John Twelve Hawks has created. An unsatisfying ending to an otherwise complete story is forgivable, assuming that Hawks plans to envelop his readers in the fictional world he has created in the series to come.

Though perhaps not a “Run Right Out and Buy This Book In Hardcover” read, The Traveler is definitely worth a look for anyone interested in an intellectual, science-fiction novel that encompasses the concepts and technology of The Matrix with bits of neuroscience, kung-fu kick-ass women, cross-dimensional travel, adventure, and unexpected romantic intrigue.