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3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  287 ratings  ·  45 reviews
This is no countryhe knows, and no placehe ever wants to see, even in the shuttered madness of his worst dreams. ButRichard Janesurvived. He walks becausehe hasno choice andat the end of this molten road, running along the spine of a burned, battered country,his son may be alive. The sky crawls with venomous cloud and burning rain whilethe land is a scorched sprawl of rubb...more
Paperback, 363 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Virgin Books (first published April 2nd 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Stephen Theaker
The superb movie-style cover of this book tells you all you need to know about the plot going in: a man walks to London through a devastated Britain. However, it does mislead in one way - despite the tagline ("This is you. This is now. And your number is up.") the book isn't written in the second person. That was a relief.

In the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Peter Nicholls noted in the entry "Holocaust and After" that: "Many of the authors cited have not been closely associated with Genre SF....more
Bryan Alexander
Like _The Road_, but less cheerful.
This is you. This is now. And your number is up.

For reasons that are too complicated to touch upon here I have long been a fan of apocalyptic and post apocalyptic fiction. Novels about the end of the world have always sparked my imagination and over the years I have read a fair number. Some, like Swan Song by Robert McCammon, and Blood Crazy Simon Clark, I keep going back to again and again. I always look forward to reading a new example of the genre and so was happy when I finally managed to pi...more
Conrad Williams is a good writer; that said, I thought the development of the book was disappointing. There are two distinct stories here. The first half of the book has a theme of world catastrophe, which was very well done. The second half is a scifi/horror book that becomes increasingly morbid, dark, and with unclear focus. Overall, the characters were not well developed, and there was excessive emphasis on the solitary sufferings of the hero, with little else to balance the story.
Gruesome almost from page one. Good, but a real stomach-turner. Very, very dark. Not for the feint-of-heart!
Felicia A
Other reviewers on Amazon covered the plotline very well, so there is no need for me to rehash. This book, as one of the other reviewers said, WAS depressing, but that was the point. It was different in that there was a twist to the why/how of the "zombies". I won't spoil it for you.

The story was good, dark, lonely and distant. Jane's love for his son, who could not have possibly survived, is what keeps him going for TEN YEARS. It, as someone else said, really IS kind of like The Road, but not...more
(This is a somewhat edited version of an e-mail I sent a few friends after first reading it. --v)

This one’s a postapocalyptic SFF novel about a deep-sea diver in the North Sea (present day) who's fixing the leg of an oil rig, feels a tremor, and comes up to find the world all scorched and pretty much everything dead in grisly fashion. He then sets off to make his way down the length of the UK, hoping to find his son alive in London against all odds.

There are of course a lot of echoes of previous...more
Carolyn (Book Chick City)
One by Conrad Williams is about one mans journey to find his son following an apocalyptic event. The United Kingdom is a scorched and desolate place, covered with a glittering dust, rubble and corpses.

The book is broken into two parts and the opening first few chapters are just pure brilliance. The pace was fast and the characters vivid. It wet my appetite for what was going to be something special, or so I thought.

After the first few intense and profound chapters the pace slowed to a virtual st...more
Robert Beveridge
Conrad Williams, One (Virgin Books, 2009)

I knew too much when I started this book, unfortunately. If you're reading this review, you probably already do as well. I say this because while the first half of the book is good, it's a different animal entire than the second half, and the final sentence of part one is one of those understated sucker punches that just works, but works so much better when you have no earthly idea it's coming. So on the off chance that you got here for some reason other...more
Diver Richard Jane is off on a job repairing an oil rig when a mysterious cataclysm strikes seemingly reducing the world’s population (or at least England’s) to a bare handful of people. Escaping his remote location Jane makes his way back to England hopeing and believed that his son is still alive. Along the way he wanders through the devastated landscape that provides surprisingly limited clues into the truth of what happened. Jane meets other survivors along the way and when the totality of t...more
Richard Wright
Brutal, poetic, and harrowing - this is very grown up horror indeed. If I hadn't already read The Road, which is a similar post-apocalyptic journey across another shattered landscape, with another desperate father, I would have enjoyed it more. There's no mimicry intended, and the final third of the book steers a sharp left into freakier territory than The Road allows itself, but it's a little unfortunate. That said, this is highly accomplished stuff, more than enough to make me seek out more no...more
Mar 06, 2010 Caroline rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Caroline by: Laura Newsome
Shelves: 2010
I probably shouldn't have read this during my lunch hours as it was quite gruesome. Very enjoyable and just my sort of thing! Sometimes the writing seemed a bit repetitive though and then at other times I wasn't sure what was happening because it wasn't explained. Still great though.
Joe Augustyn
I'm afraid I'll have to agree with Carolyn (Book Chick City) -- this book failed to hold me. It started off well but developed into an ambiguous, slow shambling mess. The author spent a great deal of time focused on the main character's search for and lamentation for his missing son (to the point where it got annoying to me) and couldn't seem to make up his mind whether this was a straightforward apocalyptic novel like The Road or a zombie story. I slogged through most of it waiting for it to ki...more
A good book, but grueling. There's only so much end of the world you can take.
This is a great apocalyptic novel with an attention to detail and power which doesn't abate from the brilliant opening chapters right through to the last page. Other reviewers have detailed the plot, so I won't go into it here, other than to state that the "ten years later" shift midway through the book didn't feel like two seperate books as some reviewers have suggested, only a natural progression and a logical expansion of the tale which seemed entirely appropriate.

The main strength is William...more
This is a high concept book and by that I mean you can imagine the author sat down with his agent saying "I've got a great idea for a story, a deep-sea diver estranged from his wife is at the bottom of the ocean when the end of the world strikes. He re-surfaces and then trudges across Britain in desperate search of his hopefully surviving son". That sounds great doesn't it? Well that initial concept is, unfortunately as the story progresses it completely starts to unravel. Some avenues are explo...more
"One" by Conrad Williams has a post-apocalyptic (due to gamma ray bursts) England as its backdrop. It is the story of a father (our protagonist, Richard Jane) who has survived the cataclysm in the opening chapter for being 600 feet deep in the ocean, a diver repairing pipes on an offshore oil platform. The opening chapter is brilliantly written. While I was reading it, I wondered why I haven't heard about this book being one of the best of the decade in the sub-genre alongside "The Road" by Corm...more
Most of this book I read wincing at the imagery only to recoil at the sight of stopped traffic. There are moments where clogged highways of the dead made me think it would be preferable to the endless traffic jams I found myself in these last few days. I could walk over the roofs and head home in half the time it ultimately took me. Of course--if my journey mirrored the main characters--even my kin would possibly be dead.
This book--oh, there's so much to say, but it's late--made me grateful in i...more
Sep 09, 2009 Jerrod rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: apocolyptic fans, horror, dark fiction, tragedy.
Shelves: dark-fiction
Conrad delivers another slowly unsettling novel following Richard Jane, a deep sea welder than survives an apocalyptic event. His life marriage is falling apart and the only thing that keeps him going is his son Stanley. The story's pace is overall a nice and steady, but some readers might find the repeated reference and integration of his son Stanley a little irritating. But this is one major thread of the story and a large piece into the character, Richard Janes, head. Conrad's attention to th...more
Hmmm, bit disappointed with this one. After the brilliant "Unblemished" I was interested to see how the author would lend is hand to the classic, if somewhat overdone, zombie/end of the world novel.

It started off well and I soon settled into the powerful and unique voice the author has. The imagery was sharp and visceral but at times slightly too literary for my liking and confused the flow of the story for me.

I really started to like it when the sole survivor, the "one", teamed up with some...more
Apocalyptic Fiction
One is an interesting post-apocalyptic novel written by Conrad Williams and released in 2009. The cause of the disaster in One remains a mystery although its effects are devastating and kill most of the people on earth. The main character, Richard Jane, is a deep sea diver that works on oil rigs and happens to be deep under water when the incident occurs. Presumably, the mass of water above him shields him from the devastation. The story follows Richard in his search for his five year old son th...more
David Hebblethwaite
Conrad Williams‘ The Unblemished was one of my favourite books of 2008; sadly, his new novel, One, doesn’t reach the heights of that earlier work — but it’s an interesting read with some very fine moments nevertheless.

The novel is divided into two distinct parts. In the first, ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’, Richard Jane is a saturation diver working on an oil platform off the coast of Aberdeen, when the apocalypse occurs. Eventually making his way back to land, Jane’s only thought is to travel...more
Conrad Williams has a unique trademark: he is a poet painting raw, insane nightmares and madness, and even when the subject is the same, it is captured differently every frame. 'The Unblemished' still remains the best example of his fever-dream oeuvre--which is interesting, because it's one of the older books. it makes me question whether Williams became a father soon after. to a little boy. this bit of conjecture is due to the sudden over-saturation of father-son love in the later works ('One,'...more
John Wedderburn
Harder than I thought to write a spoiler free review of this - even referencing the various genres it fits into can give away too much. I loved this - in a grim, dreadful kind of way. Whilst it seems to be a pretty standard apocalypse story the prose lifts it to a much higher level - it very much reminded me of 'The Road', and I don't say that lightly. The story itself keeps on going with a good momentum and I found the sudden gear change in the middle, which many comment on here, to be a good w...more
If i wanted to go a cheap book cover slogan way i would say 'British Road meets 28 days/weeks later', but that is an easy way out, the book is much more than that. I really liked beginning, immediately hooked. First part is a more road travelling world-gone-shitter, a very bleak, lungs-coming from mouth kind of bleak. Williams has a good grasp for describing nasty things, 'teeth coming loose, gums bleeding' style nice things. A second part is a bit more familiar apocalypse territory, but still v...more
This was a good book. I did have a few issues like the writer jumping into scenes without explaining why the character was even there in the first place. The "elegant" description if things made no sense for a book like this. What was up with the mystery character that had protected him in the beginning & the end but had no background or history. Other them that I did like the fact that the hero was falling apart during the book. Losing his teeth, getting injured toward the end, & losing...more
Sam Simpson
One of the worst i've read. I am a big fan of postapocolyptic fiction but this one fails on several levels. The main character is somewhat one dimensional, and while he is supposedly a rational man, he holds one ridiculous belief despite immense evidence to the contrary. That eroded his character in my eyes. Also, the story is unfocused. The first half and the second half almost seem like completely different books. There is a very odd and abrupt plot change about midway that throws the narrativ...more
Simon O'Brien
Starts really good with some unnerving descriptive passages that avoid cliché. It progresses even better into surprising areas beyond the bleak but always dark. Only downside is the reader becoming numb to the constant and painful journey as it marches on into the unbelievable. Maybe just not my dystopia :) . Could have been shorter.
Very dark, very upsetting, and very well done. I am a huge fan of apocalyptic, and post apocalyptic anything.
i guess its the darkness, the isolation, the crushing helplessness, and sadness. Its also the triumph and failures of the human spirt, and the savagery of mankind at its worst. if you feel the same this books for you.
Oglaigh na  hEireann
OK all hell breaks loose while you under the ocean diving with a team. Above you,.. you have not the slightest clue that armagedon has just happened,...what do you do ? Well taken from a completely lost and utterly f'ed situation,...I have to say it was an jump into the basics of human nature,..fight or flight,...and the S*hit was ON.
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In 2007 Conrad Williams won the International Horror Guild Award for Best Novel for The Unblemished. In 2008 he won the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, for The Scalding Rooms. In 2010 he won the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel for One.
More about Conrad Williams...
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“You could be the ugliest, nastiest most miserable piece of shit known to man, but if you had a beating heart there was always a chance you'd turn into a diamond after a million years.” 10 likes
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