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Snapshot is a Science Fiction detective story following Anthony Davis, a cop assigned to Snapshot Duty. In this vivid world that author Brandon Sanderson has built, society can create a snapshot of a specific day in time. The experiences people have, the paths they follow—all of them are real again for a one day in the snapshot. All for the purposes of investigation by the court.

Davis’s job as a cop on Snapshot Duty is straight forward. Sometimes he is tasked with finding where a criminal dumped a weapon. Sometimes he is tasked with documenting domestic disputes. Simple. Mundane. One day, in between two snapshot assignments, Davis decides to investigate the memory of a call that was mysteriously never logged at the precinct, and he makes a horrifying discovery.

As in all many stories, Snapshot follows a wonderfully flawed character as he attempts to solve a horrific crime. Sanderson proves that no matter the genre, he is one of the most skilled storytellers in the business.

123 pages, Leather Bound

First published February 17, 2017

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About the author

Brandon Sanderson

389 books211k followers
I’m Brandon Sanderson, and I write stories of the fantastic: fantasy, science fiction, and thrillers.

Defiant, the fourth and final volume of the series that started with Skyward in 2018, comes out in November 2023, capping an already book-filled year that will see the releases of all four Secret Projects: Tress of the Emerald Sea, The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, Yumi and the Nightmare Painter, and Secret Project Four (with its official title reveal coming October 2023). These four books were all initially offered to backers of the #1 Kickstarter campaign of all time.

November 2022 saw the release of The Lost Metal, the seventh volume in the Mistborn saga, and the final volume of the Mistborn Era Two featuring Wax & Wayne. The third era of Mistborn is slated to be written after the first arc of the Stormlight Archive wraps up.

In November 2020 we saw the release of Rhythm of War—the fourth massive book in the New York Times #1 bestselling Stormlight Archive series that began with The Way of Kings—and Dawnshard (book 3.5), a novella set in the same world that bridges the gaps between the main releases. This series is my love letter to the epic fantasy genre, and it’s the type of story I always dreamed epic fantasy could be. The fifth volume, Wind and Truth, is set for release in fall 2024.

Most readers have noticed that my adult fantasy novels are in a connected universe called the Cosmere. This includes The Stormlight Archive, both Mistborn series, Elantris, Warbreaker, and various novellas available on Amazon, including The Emperor’s Soul, which won a Hugo Award in 2013. In November 2016 all of the existing Cosmere short fiction was released in one volume called Arcanum Unbounded. If you’ve read all of my adult fantasy novels and want to see some behind-the-scenes information, that collection is a must-read.

I also have three YA series: The Rithmatist (currently at one book), The Reckoners (a trilogy beginning with Steelheart), and Skyward. For young readers I also have my humorous series Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, which had its final book, Bastille vs. the Evil Librarians, come out in 2022. Many of my adult readers enjoy all of those books as well, and many of my YA readers enjoy my adult books, usually starting with Mistborn.

Additionally, I have a few other novellas that are more on the thriller/sci-fi side. These include the Legion series, as well as Perfect State and Snapshot. There’s a lot of material to go around!

Good starting places are Mistborn (a.k.a. The Final Empire), Skyward, Steelheart,The Emperor’s Soul, and Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians. If you’re already a fan of big fat fantasies, you can jump right into The Way of Kings.

I was also honored to be able to complete the final three volumes of The Wheel of Time, beginning with The Gathering Storm, using Robert Jordan’s notes.

Sample chapters from all of my books are available at brandonsanderson.com—and check out the rest of my site for chapter-by-chapter annotations, deleted scenes, and more.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,383 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46.1k followers
October 28, 2017
Well, what can I say? It’s Brandon Sanderson, you know what to expect here; Snapshot is a compelling mini gem of a Sci-Fi novella

The last time I read anything by Brandon Sanderson, it was Arcanum Unbounded around six months ago; this fact itself is a sin already. I’ve caught up to all his books and novellas in his Cosmere universe and I told myself I won’t read anything written by him outside of that universe. Why? Well, I have this belief that just because it’s not his main series, it won’t be as good or creative. Don’t judge me, based on my experience, this has almost always been the case. Alas, here I am, who was I kidding? Less than two months left until Oathbringer’s release date and I just can’t wait any longer. I’ve been on a Sanderson withdrawal for too long and this novella was the little fix I needed.

The concept used in Snapshot—the recreation of an alternate reality of a specific day in time for the purpose of investigation—may not be the most original concept out there; plenty of video games and movies has adapted this concept already. However, despite the unoriginality, Sanderson did a great job in utilizing the concept of Snapshot and Deviation to create his own engaging Sci-Fi detective story that’s filled with mystery, heart and great characterizations within a short period of reading length.

Picture: Reality Badge by Vincent Chong (Interior artwork available in the limited edition of Snapshot)

I finished reading this novella in around one hour and due to the short length of reading time, this is where I’ll end my review to avoid spoiling anything; dive into this one as blindly as possible like I did. I’m an extremely heavy epic fantasy reader and it will always be my favorite genre, but once in a while I have to take a little break from the genre to avoid feeling burned out; Snapshot is the perfect palate cleanser for me.

I highly recommend this novella to anyone who’s looking for a short fantastic Sci-Fi detective story. This is the first time I read anything written by Sanderson out of his Cosmere books and it certainly won’t be the last.

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for Khurram.
1,666 reviews6,660 followers
June 6, 2022
Great layering of a short story. This stated off a bit slow, when the science of the Snapshot was being explained they was left as "left to the bean counters". However when you get into it this is a great little detective story. Brandon Sanderson manages to combine the future technology into a modern day detective story with a couple of twists. We are told the story from detective Davis' point of view. After I finished read the story. I though back and saw the clues that were there for the ending. Very good.
Profile Image for Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~.
350 reviews942 followers
March 14, 2017
I know, I know.

"You worship anything this man publishes! It's bias! It's prejudice! It's... it's... favoritism!!

To those accusations I say... you're absolutely right!

I'm astonished at Brandon Sanderson's ability to impress me. Be it series or stand alone or novella, I am here for anything under the Sanderson-Sun.

Another wonderfully creative story to add to the list!
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
September 27, 2020
4+ stars! Brandon Sanderson's SF detective novella "Snapshot" (about 100 pages long) was a cool, twisty read. I read it twice over the weekend, the second time to look for all the clues I had missed on my first read. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

In an alternate version of the United States, the city of Clipperton has cutting edge technology built underneath it that enables those who control it to exactly recreate a particular day in that city’s recent history: a Snapshot of that day, complete with exact duplicates of all of the places and people that were in the city at that time. Unless an outside force intervenes, the events of that day will be precisely replicated within the Snapshot. The police force assigns particular cops to Snapshot duty, inserting them into this re-created day in order to investigate crimes. They are the only real people in the city; all others are duplicates, or “dupes,” who are indistinguishable from actual people until the Snapshot is turned off, when they and everything else in the city will be reconstituted back to raw matter and energy.

Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz are Snapshot cops who have washed out of regular police duties for different reasons. They begin their day in New Clipperton, a recreation of May 1, 2018, ten days before the current day, by investigating a shooting, following the criminal to try to find the murder weapon. They have several hours to kill before the next event they are assigned to investigate on that day. Instead of going to a safehouse, Davis and Chaz decide to investigate a mysterious event Davis had heard about, where multiple squad cars gathered at a scene, but that is oddly absent from the precinct’s records. Their unofficial investigation leads them to a mass murder scene that they are ordered to ignore … but don’t.

The intriguing setting is the jewel of Snapshot. Brandon Sanderson takes the science fictional idea of being able to create an exact duplicate of a day in the recent past of a New York-like city, adds a multi-layered detective story to it, and then increases the complexity by using the personal strengths and shortcomings of the detective characters as a vital element of the plot. The technology has realistic limitations: for example, the actions of the real-life characters in the Snapshot world can cause deviations from what actually happened on that day in the real world, which can ruin the evidentiary value of their investigation. Sanderson touches on, but leaves unresolved, the ethical dilemma of creating a world of thinking, feeling people and then extinguishing them at the end of the day, with the flick of a switch.

The mass murder plotline wasn’t entirely convincing to me, with the detectives making some intuitive leaps in understanding the dubiously grounded motivations of the killer, whose ability to ensnare his victims was given short shrift. But the story was otherwise convincingly real, hitting me with a couple of surprises along the way that I hadn’t foreseen (my bad; the clues were there), but which in retrospect were entirely fitting puzzle pieces for this SF mystery novella.

P.S. for Sanderson fans: reportedly this novella is set in the same world as the Steelheart series. I would guess it takes place after that series ends. No spoilers, though.
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
317 reviews1,341 followers
August 30, 2018
I received a review copy of Snapshot in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Brandon Sanderson and Gollancz for the opportunity.

This novella arrived on my doorstep at 11:30 this morning. I picked it up, loved the cover, read the blurb and decided to stop what I was doing. I dived headfirst into this sci-fi cop thriller and had finished it within 2 hours. I have a 'to be read' list of over 300 books so that fact that the book looked so good that I changed my day's plans to suit and did not put it down once just shows that I found Snapshot to be an excellent and thrilling bite-size futuristic drama that has surprising depth for its 120 pages.

Although it doesn't specify when exactly, Snapshot is set in the near future. Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz are two cops. At the start of the narrative, they are introduced as the only two real people. This is because they are investigating two crimes and have been given a warrant to see a 'snapshot' of the events of the day. This is essentially where through hi-tech and expensive scientific equipment they can visit a simulation of the day a certain crime took place and search for clues and evidence that can be used in court in the real world. The other people in this replay of events are duplications of their real selves only they do not know it. Now, Davis and Chaz were not here when the crimes happened originally so their influence on the snapshot environment can cause deviations which are recorded at a percentage. If they speak to someone and they go off on their way and change the course of events before or when they occurred the deviation rating will be high and therefore the evidence and information gained could be inadmissible in court. The ideal way to deal with this is to inspect the details of one crime then remain in a safe house until the known time of the second event they need to investigate. Davis, however, decides to look into another potential crime. He knows something large and important occurred but that it is not mentioned in any police records. What they find is truly shocking and they take it upon themselves to try and find information regarding a mass murderer relating to incidents that the police have kept under wraps.

We only really get to know the two main characters with a few side characters/ duplications who feature for a few moments here and there. The environment reads as a futuristic equivalent to New York City. It's pretty well written and has surprising depth for a novella. The ending presents two twists within quick succession and I could not have predicted either of them even if I tried my hardest. I'm not sure if I would pay £10.99 for it personally however for Sanderson completists of which I know there are many it is a beautiful little book and looks very nice on my Sanderson shelf next to the Edgedancer novella. I don't normally rate short stories or novella's that high but this is one of the top 10 shorter stories that I've ever read. It's 100% worth checking out.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,643 reviews1,512 followers
February 18, 2017
Sanderson is a magician. He shows you one thing and you think you are so smart and have it all figured out because it is definitely Cornel Mustard in the conservatory with the Candlestick but then BAM POW he does that writing magic that he does and it is amazing and you should have seen it all along but it was Doby in the Quiddich Pitch with a love potion, who knew.

I thought I knew what was happening and what the reveal would be but again I missed it and was totally wrong. This reminds me of an episode out of the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt that leaves you a little off center and pondering the reveal at the end.

The premise is interesting. A few cops work in a recreation of a day. Everything is recreated the people, their interactions with others, the vehicles, everything down to the coffee and burritos. Crime scenes are monitored and witnessed to help cops in the Real World find the evidence needed to convict criminals. This is a day in the life of two of those cops and what they find out is amazing.

The end threw me for a loop and I again bow down to the masterful imagination and writing brilliance that is Brandon Sanderson.

Audio Note: This was a quick listen and like all of Sanderson's books the Audio was fantastic.
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
435 reviews483 followers
February 18, 2017

Once again Brandon Sanderson conjures the unexpected and the expected.
A story you did not know you needed, and brilliance you knew he would deliver.

This one is best experienced knowing as little as possible about the plot, but the premise basics are as follows:

◎ Law enforcement in the city of New Clipperton have access to a facility that enables them to recreate a day in the recent past exactly.
◎ This Snapshot consists of an exact recreation of the city, the people and everything else in it.
◎ Everything is real, but everything is a duplicate of the real world at a point in time.
◎ The police use this technology by sending officers into this Snapshot in order to witness events such as where a murderer disposes of a weapon.
◎ Nothing in this Snapshot can affect the real world, apart from the information gathered here.
◎ The officers sent to investigate have absolute authority in this world, but as everything is real, they can still be killed and need to exercise caution.
◎ These officers have to keep as a low a profile as possible, and try not to interfere with anything that might cause deviations.
◎ A deviation occurs when something the officers say or do changes the events of the day in anyway. ◎ A deviation might be small, not changing the course of events within the Snapshot, but it may also be big, changing everything and rendering the Snapshot worthless.

And that's as much as you need to know ;)

As always, when it comes to Sanderson, highly recommended.
Profile Image for Gavin.
886 reviews401 followers
April 28, 2017
This was another excellent Sanderson sci-fi novella. The story might have been short but that did not stop both the world and characters from feeling well fleshed out. The story itself was exciting, engaging, and packed with a few shock twists and turns. The story sort of felt a little like a cross between The Matrix and Minority Report!

In the future the technology exists to recreate snapshots of past days. Davis and Chaz are snapshot detectives. They enter the recreation in order to observe and investigate crimes. Their latest assignment goes array when they decide to investigate a crime that was not on their list of orders. The world of the snapshot might disappear as soon as Davis and Chaz leave but until then it can still hurt them!

The story was a lot of fun. I loved the idea of the snapshots and there was plenty of mystery and action to keep this one an engaging and enjoyable read. I'd love to see more novellas set in this world as it has a ton of potential.

Rating: 4.5 stars.

Audio Note: This was narrated by William DeMeritt and I felt like he did OK with it.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,103 followers
March 27, 2017
Ah, I think this is one of Sanderson's better novellas, easily, and not just because it's housed in a police drama genre. :)

The simple concept of a whole world that can be replayed like a virtual reality is very much a Cosmere concept, but what he does with it, replaying the reality of the last day in order to hunt down a serial murderer, is really cool.

I can totally see myself getting into this as a part of a longer series, but the actions and events of this one is quite satisfying. I'm not complaining at all.

Simple story, interesting reveals, and best of all, a very clear voice and classic cop characters... with a superb twist. :)

(Even if it's kinda predictable, it's still a very well-written and satisfying story.)
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
March 21, 2017
Thanks, Tadiana, for letting me know about this one!

What a cool novella this was! (Impress your friends by dropping that statement into casual conversation!)

Davis and his partner Chaz are police detectives, but their beat is different from any other: they're employed by a controversial program called Snapshot, which recreates a specific day down to the tiniest detail. In a Snapshot, they're the only real people; everyone else is a "dupe."

Snapshots are based on days when an unsolved crime was first committed. Davis and Chaz are sent back to a particular day, before the crime is committed, so they can determine who the perpetrator is, or find crucial evidence that they transmit to the police in the real city at the current time. While they need to be careful that they don't cause problems, as any deviations from the original day have the potential to cause ripples, like the butterfly effect, and potentially harm the prosecution of the criminals. But still, they have complete power, which causes them to overrule the civil rights of the dupes they encounter.

They are sent back to the Snapshot for May 1, and their instructions are clear. They are to first track down the weapon a criminal hides, and then they are to respond to a domestic disturbance later that day. But just following orders is starting to wear on both men, plus there's something about the domestic disturbance that is worrying Davis, so he convinces Chaz that they should look into a mysterious crime allegedly committed that day, but it never appeared on police reports.

What they discover is a grisly scene, with larger implications than they can imagine, and it entangles them in something much bigger than they are. But more than that, as the day unfolds, you realize that there are secrets both men are hiding. Who are these policemen? Do they know what they're in the middle of? Who can they trust?

I read Brandon Sanderson's Steelheart a few years ago (see my original review), and I was really impressed with not only his storytelling ability, but the detail he put into the world he created. Honestly, I never read other books in that series more because I have far too many books to read, but I've always intended to get back to them.

The world he created in Snapshot is equally dazzling, perhaps even more so because he does it in so few pages. Sure, there have been books and movies in which characters travel back in time to try and solve crimes (or even perpetrate them), this is such a cool concept, because the characters are going to a replica of a day in the past. Some of the details were a little confusing, but I was hooked from start to finish, and I only wish that this was novel-length instead.

These are fantastic, flawed characters in a world unlike any I've seen, and I only hope that Sanderson takes us back there sometime soon. I'll be waiting.

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for Ahmed  Ejaz.
549 reviews323 followers
September 30, 2018
What the hell of a ride it was! Really! I've never experienced something like this before! This whole Snapshot idea is freakin' amazing.
Snapshot is a technology which can recreate a perfect reality of any past day from raw matter. It's like a virtual reality stimulation with the only is that everything in it is physical. You can feel things!

So this novella mainly revolves around two detectives, Davis and Chaz. They are being sent in this stimulation of a past day to investigate a case. After that they stumble upon a mass murder which they aren't allowed to investigate. But still they wanna catch & stop the killer. A killer who knows that this whole day is fake. A stimulation of a Snapshot technology.

--There were two twists here! Woah! I'm still overwhelmed by them. How the heck I couldn't see them! Of course last ending was as unexpected AF. Literally. I don’t think someone might be expecting that. Anyway, but it was shocking (it's such a small word).
Some might have guessed the first twist. But that was too unexpected by me.
--There were some confusing things like Deviations. These are just the things, in Snapshot, which you do against the things happened in real life. They can change the outcomes and investigation can be rendered inaccurate by them. This concept was little bit confusing for me. But I ignored it.
--THAT ENDING! *dies*

BRANDON SANDERSON! Now I know what's all the hype is about.

Buddy read with: Elsa Qazi & Shabana Mukhtar

28 September, 2018
Profile Image for TS Chan.
719 reviews886 followers
March 26, 2017
Okay, it's been 5 days since I've finished Snapshot and I'm still pretty much like Keanu/Neo.

Mr Sanderson had yet again skillfully crafted a short story that confounds and impresses. You might have thought "Yea, I know how Sanderson's mind works by now and his reveal or twist at the end will most likely be etc etc." Well no, my friend, you would be mistaken. And hence, I was too.

Seriously, this guy can write anything. A detective story of sorts that gives out vibes of The Matrix, Inception and The Twilight Zone, in just 100 pages or so, I understood and empathised with the main character. I honestly had goosebumps and the creeps in some of the scenes. It just felt so real. I also found that the length was just right for the story that Sanderson wanted to tell. Having said that, and this happened with every novella/short produced by him, I want more! How was Snapshot created? How does it work? It was so wholly fascinating that it just begs for a full-length sci-fi novel to be written.

Not sure what to read next and need a quick change of pace? Do yourself a favour and pick this up. You will still be thinking about it when you're on to the next one though.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
554 reviews60.5k followers
March 18, 2017
Short sci-fi mystery story from Brandon Sanderson... what else could you want?
A great palate cleanser in between other big books I've been reading. I always like his ideas and I appreciate what he did here.
A good read!
Profile Image for Tina ➹ lives in Fandoms.
411 reviews417 followers
November 29, 2021
3.5 Silver Stars
with Golden Sparks

this book wasn't an Ordinary 3-star, because it was as extraordinary as possible, but comparing to other Sandersons (4s, or 3s) to be fair, I give it 3...
probably one of the best Crime I've ever read, & the easiest, & the quickest, & the funniest.
maybe sometimes Plot is not the most important part of the story (though it was unpredictable & exciting) & the other factors below ⮟ can take the wheel.

Quick Read
Exciting Intriguing Plot!
Such an unexpected Ending!

Great Funny Characters
Great World Building
Great idea
with Graceful writing style (Sanderson is one of my favourite Authors & I'll probably read anything he wrote!)
World building: ★★★★/5
Characters: ★★★★/5
Written style: ★★★★/5
Plot: ★★★/5
General idea: ★★★/5
Profile Image for Nimrod Daniel.
148 reviews267 followers
May 17, 2017
That's a really great detective thriller story by Brandon, it's a sophisticated story and it's probably different from any detective story you've read, and it has a brilliant ending!

I really liked the idea of the snapshot, which is a recreation of a full day that includes everything. Since the very beginning we're introduced to the deviations in the snapshot - actions that can change the course of time in the snapshot. Deviations are accumulated and can expand in ways that are unpredictable, very much like in chaos theory, and no one knows exactly how deviations can change the course of time in the snapshot, though statisticians can asses how much deviation there's in a snapshot . He even made a joke about butterflies :)

The story is very entertaining and thought provoking, and it's a really quick and fun read. The two detective are very-well portrayed, and will me you think and laugh :)
The ending is really brilliant, definitely a work of a mastermind. I couldn't have anticipated the ending, though I had some doubts regarding a few things which proved to be right.
After finishing the story my mind was consumed with many thoughts in a higher philosophical level about a lot of things such as time, probability, multiverse etc.

Do yourself a favour and read this story
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,605 reviews2,309 followers
August 4, 2022
By Brandon Sanderson
Wow, what a great sci-fi thriller! Snapshot is a program that can make an exact replica of a certain day in time including people, food, lighting. They then send cops in undercover to watch a crime and see what happens, find evidence, and be a witness if necessary. This is a story about two cops that do this for a living. One cop noticed that a crime, must have happened and covered up. They decided to check it out. What they find and what happens is most is the story! Extraordinary! Great story and plot! Exciting until the very end!
Profile Image for Anish Kohli.
188 reviews263 followers
December 30, 2022
Re-read Review:
Re-reading this book after more than 5 years and I must say it really holds up in sheer entertainment value. At a measly 98 pages, this book packs a punch in terms of sheer story-telling! I loved how the characters are tackled, the story is ingenious and the twist is so lovely that even on a re-read it just works! Such an Inception level shit, this book.
Sando keeps it real, I believe. I am always struck by how smooth and simplistic Sanderson's writing style is across the board. He will keep you turning pages so effectively and before you know it, he'll have is hooks so deep in you and then he will deliver a gut punch kinda twist!

Love the man's work and I hope he keeps us reading like this for the longest time possible. Cheers y'all!

Original Review
My first Sanderson read so I didn’t know what to expect going in. I somehow managed to keep all expectations in check and because of that I loved this!!

Snapshot, is a short story and it's review can be summed up with two movie references. It starts off like Source Code and ends like Inception.

Set in the year 2018, Davis and his partner Chaz are Snapshot duty cops. Two real people in an imitation of a particular day of the real life, investigating crimes and gathering evidence.
In here, they were the only ones with rights. In here, they were gods.

Digging into their Burritos, Davis and Chaz are in the Snapshot, doing their detective thing, trying to get incriminating evidence on a criminal.
“Which end is the mustard on?” he asked. “Mustard?” Chaz replied. “Who puts mustard on a burrito?” “You. What side?”

Once they’ve nailed their primary target, Davis puts them on the heels of a clever murderer unknowingly. A murderer who they had no idea even existed. A murderer who’s been avoiding and evading even being detected. A killer who is aware of the concept of a Snapshot.
Davis knocked. Such a courteous request of a serial killer with blood on his hands, but there it was. Davis knocked again, politely.

The story is well paced and well concealed as to where it is truly leading and sure as hell will blind side you with the ending. The writing is very smooth and eases you into the story from the very first word. But for me, the highlight of this story was that how well the character of Davis shaped up even in such a short span.
The conversations of Davis and Chaz were just great.
“Eat the coin? Sure. Why not? What are the precinct bean counters going to do? Search my stool?”
Chaz took a long drink of beer. “You’re a strange little dude, Davis.”
“You’re only now figuring this out?”

I think Mr. Sanderson and me are gonna get along great! Looking forward to reading more from the man.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,209 reviews19.7k followers
September 22, 2018
I’m gonna need for Brandon Sanderson to write more detective stories.
These short stories/novellas he writes always leave me craving for more.
121 reviews58 followers
June 9, 2017
Excellent Sanderson novella, as can only be expected at this point =]. Not my favorite of his work, and not quite the best of his novellas, but still an excellent addition to the many pieces of short fiction he has written. I'm always impressed by how quickly he can build a world, construct a plot, and bring it to a satisfactory resolution. This book was no exception.

Be sure to pick it up!
Profile Image for Tosh.
163 reviews39 followers
April 20, 2017
I can always count on Brandon Sanderson's stories to bring me out of a reading funk. This was an interesting, quick read. Another perfect example of the seamingly limitless imagination of the author, and his ability to still surprise you even when you think you know what to expect. I only wish this were longer. The origin of the technology was only vaguely hinted at between the characters, and I'm very curious to know what exactly is making it possible. Possible sequel? I hope so!!
Profile Image for Tammie.
1,353 reviews158 followers
February 27, 2023
Update 2/5/23: Read a second time for fantasy book club. I had forgotten more about this story than I thought, so there were still surprises.

Sanderson and I have a rocky relationship. At times I think his writing is incredible, but then there have been times I have found it terribly tedious and boring. I know I'm in the minority when it comes to that opinion, but that's just my personal experience. I loved what he did with WoT, I enjoyed Steelheart but didn't love it, I liked Elantris tremendously even though it had some flaws, and so far I love the Wax and Wayne books, but the original Mistborn trilogy was hit and miss with me and I almost didn't finish it. I think he really shines with this story.

Snapshot is a novella seemingly set in the same world as the Steelheart trilogy. While that trilogy was written for young adults, snapshot is more for adults. The only real tie here between the two is that the snapshot that is generated in this story is generated by a person with super powers.

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

Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz are sent into a snapshot, which is a recreation of a certain day that looks and seems very real, to investigate a crime that happened on that day. They can interact with this fake world and cause deviations so they are supposed to be careful to preserve things as they really happened. While in the snapshot they decide to investigate a case that they have not been asked to investigate. From there on things get more and more interesting, resulting in a story that is utterly brilliant. I loved the whole concept of the snapshot.

In the postscript that Sanderson wrote at the end of this novella, he seems to think that most readers will automatically come to certain conclusions in a certain order while reading this story. I have to say that I was not one of those people. I'm not sure what that says about me as a reader, or if it says anything about me at all, but there were some twists that I didn't see coming. Should I have seen the twists coming? I don't know, maybe. I usually find it pretty easy to solve the mysteries in detective stories, but as I was trying to figure this one out my mind actually went in a completely different direction. A completely wrong one, but to me, that just made the reading experience even better.

I'll leave it at that, because I don't want to spoil this read for anyone. If you like detective novels, if you like The Twlight Zone, if you like stories by Phillip K. Dick, then you might like this novella. I've heard that film rights have been optioned by MGM. Personally I think that's a good move on their part, because I think this would make a great movie.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader.

and my Facebook page.
Profile Image for Layla ✷ Praise the sun ✷.
100 reviews10 followers
March 12, 2017
So I just read that MGM has bought the movie rights to Snapshot.
This should be interesting to see on a screen.

Snapshot is a short novella that can be read in a little more than an hour, and as my friend Eon wrote in his review, it is best experienced knowing as little as possible about the plot so I will just say that much:

It is a Science Fiction detective story following a specific detective investigating crimes in so called "Snapshots", exact recreations of specific days in the near past - and I totally fell for it.

Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,248 reviews642 followers
November 7, 2020
Although this is a short novella (123 pages or just over 2h as an audiobook), Sanderson manages to create a richly imagined futuristic world in which the snapshot of a day can be visited by detectives looking for clues or evidence to solve a crime. Davis and Chaz are Snapshot cops, both deemed unsuitable for regular police week so assigned to Snapshot duty. Once in the snapshot, they have to be careful that their actions do not cause a deviation in the course of the crime. However one day, with some free time between assignments on the same day, they discover a horrific crime which seems to have gone unreported. An excellent short sf tale, well narrated by William DeMeritt, with a very cool twist in the tail.
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
679 reviews620 followers
April 13, 2018
Brandon Sanderson is a genius, why couldn't this be longer? It was perfect, it has everything you'll want in a thriller, its so unpredictable I had no idea it was going to end like this,I didn't see it coming, can't say I like it but one thing is for sure, I was not disappointed.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,634 followers
March 10, 2017
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/03/10/...

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest fan of short fiction, but I genuinely enjoy reading Brandon Sanderson novellas. Honestly, I have no idea how the guy does it. Whether his books are 1000 pages or 100, they’re always fun to read, not to mention creative as hell. As you’d expect, this was definitely the case with Snapshot as well.

Davis and Chaz are investigative partners with an interesting job, working out of a town called New Clipperton where law enforcement has access to a very special facility that helps them solve crimes. The police there have access to a technology that allows them to create a “Snapshot”, a perfect reconstruction of a day recently in the past right down to the smallest detail. Knowing exactly what’s going to happen beforehand, investigators like Davis and Chaz can be sent through into Snapshots to gather evidence or to witness the actual crimes that take place, which may then lead to arrests and charges in the real world.

There are a lot of rules, though. While Snapshots are perfect recreations of a day in time, real people who are sent through can affect the world just like it is their own. Any changes are called deviations, and they can be large or small. People are also recreated in Snapshots, called dupes. They are not real, but they might as well be for all intents and purposes—after all, they are flesh and blood, they retain the same personalities and memories as their originals, and most importantly, they also have no idea they are in a Snapshot. The only way they would find out is if they are confronted by a Snapshot agent, who is the absolute authority while he or she is on the job. Snapshot agents can still be hurt and even die while they are in a Snapshot, but they also carry special badges that allows them to overrule the civil rights of any dupes around them, which gives them access to places and information that they likely wouldn’t have gotten back in the real world.

When the story begins, we learn that Davis and Chaz are in a Snapshot of May 1st, ten days in the past. Originally assigned to do routine evidence gathering for a case they’re working on, the two of them end up accidentally stumbling onto a crime scene of a mass killing. To Davis and Chaz, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to catch a wanted murderer, but their precinct orders them to stand down and walk away instead, giving our protagonists no choice but to take matters into their own hands.

What follows next is a pulse-pounding hunt for a serial killer as our two able investigators uncover even more gruesome details about the perpetrator’s crimes. If you’re even passing familiar with Sanderson’s work though, you’ll already know that things are never so straightforward. Yes, Snapshot is a mystery, but there are so many layers to this novella that I believe even non-fans of crime and detective stories will be able to appreciate it. For one thing, there’s the fantastic premise which adds several extra dimensions to the mystery plot, and our characters are thrown into situations that will really make you think. Basically if the concept of using Snapshots to solve crimes sounds fascinating to you, then you’re going to love all the thought and creativity that went into this story.

I was also floored by the ending, which for me was definitely one of those bug-eyed “What the hell just happened?!” moments. I had to playback my audiobook several times just to make sure I heard everything right. That too, is classic Sanderson. He has this way of leading you down a garden path, making you think everything is going one way, and then BAM, he’ll show you just how innocent and naïve you were. Looking back, I guess I should have seen it coming, but in the end that twist still managed to knock me for a loop.

I don’t often hand out such high ratings for a novella simply because so few have impressed me to this degree, but I’ll happily throw my full recommendation behind Snapshot, which I thought was a truly imaginative and brilliant read. One final thing to note, this novella apparently takes place in the same universe as the Reckoners, though any links are very minor and aren’t even all that easy to catch, so reading the series is definitely not a prerequisite. This story can be enjoyed entirely on its own, so if it interests you, I would say go ahead and jump right in.

Audiobook Comments: Snapshot was a very short listen, perfect for when you need an audiobook to entertain you for a couple of hours. I’ve had experience with William DeMeritt as a narrator one other time only (for Underground Airlines by Ben Winters) but he has impressed me once again. His voice really is quite perfect for a book like this, with his deep tones enhancing the story’s crime noir vibes by bringing them to the surface. If you’re considering this one in audio, I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Brenda Waworga.
606 reviews679 followers
September 9, 2019
SciFic murder mystery and wrote by Brandon Sanderson? I expected nothing less than amazing tho I wonder why he didn’t wrote more mystery/murder story… this one was so GOOD!!

Amazed by how he created “Snapshot” world.. an expensive but dangerous simulation re-create a day, we followed 2 cops Chaz and Davis… been signed for a small errands ended up with big case (a serial killer murderer) they tried to solve by their own

The ending as usual.. unexpected!! my jaw just dropped to the floor!! OMG but i love it too 😂 i love how unexpected but also logical it was

If you want to try Brandon Sanderson book but feel intimidated with the size of his books.. you can give this one a try 😊
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