A meteor hits the moon and changes everything. That's the premise of Dead and Gone, the parallel novel to Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It.
Shortly after t...moreA meteor hits the moon and changes everything. That's the premise of Dead and Gone, the parallel novel to Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It.
Shortly after the meteor hits the moon, tidal waves flood the subway drowning untold sums of people. Then Yankee Stadium is converted into a makeshift morgue for the identification of the dead. Long food distribution lines cause riots. Bodies dead from the flu or suicide are raided for cash and valuables. Canned food and clean water are the most valuable assets.
The stakes are higher than in Life As We Know It, which makes the book thrilling to read. (Floods! Riots! Death! Oh my!). I find the idea that a seventeen-year-old has to take care of his younger siblings during the biggest disaster in recorded history very compelling, but the characters are flat. They seem little more than a stereotype and as a result I found myself having a hard time connecting. Even with so much death and destruction, my eyes remained dry the whole time.
Nevertheless the pacing of the book and the escalation of terror is well done. If you can ignore the characterization flaws in the writing, you will likely find yourself stealing moments to find out what catastrophe will be visited upon Manhattan next.(less)
The Stand is a post-apocalyptic behemoth that explores the world after a rapidly moving government-created virus kills 99.4% of the population. King c...moreThe Stand is a post-apocalyptic behemoth that explores the world after a rapidly moving government-created virus kills 99.4% of the population. King covers a lot of ground in the expanded and uncut version. He creates a multitude of main characters that are given the full treatment of textured back stories. But like a lot of King’s books, it’s really about the plot, not the evolution of characters. An epic battle of good vs. evil unfolds as survivors begin to have dreams about an elderly black woman named Mother Abigail and an ominous denim-clad wanderer named Randall Flagg. Mother Abigail and her followers convene on Boulder, Colorado to remake the American democratic system while Flagg’s followers, a generally more fearful and corrupt bunch, take Las Vegas as their own. It becomes quickly apparent that even through America is mostly empty after the superflu, they still won’t be able to live in separate camps, but are going to face off in a battle that will claim either Boulder or Vegas as victim.
Even at 1,100 plus pages, the book is very easy to read. Parts are sluggish, especially the parts in Boulder when the elected council is meeting endlessly and talking very directly about their intents to remake the American political and social system. Other parts can be downright chilling, such as our meeting with The Kid, a sociopath whose brief appearance provides one of the most abhorrent vignettes in the whole book.
Despite the high-interest premise and a huge variety of interesting and weird characters, I knew the road that each was traveling and where they would finally arrive. There is far too much foreshadowing and the end of the book was a bit of a letdown after the long road getting there. With a battle being waged between the Devil and God perhaps I should have expected that the ending would involve the divine, but it seemed an easy out.
Of course this book is not without merit. It’s huge and sprawling and tackles a number of interesting issues about good and evil, the role free will vs. fate, and the innate nature of man. It even leaves readers with some pressing questions, chief among them whether the human race can ever really ever start over.(less)
I picked up this book based on the recommendations of Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly. It seemed like a good summer read. Who doesn't want to rea...moreI picked up this book based on the recommendations of Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly. It seemed like a good summer read. Who doesn't want to read about robots taking over the world? A nice respite from vampires and zombies taking over the world anyway.
This novel, told in flashback sequences through first-person accounts and computer recordings, is the story of how Archos took over computers and turned them against man. Like most apocalyptic stories, it's told in a not-too-distant future in which man has put some form of a computer into nearly all objects. The story starts with the first moments when Archos takes control, testing its strength and takes us through to the final moments of the New War.
There are great creepy bits in this book, images of robots coming to life, stalking victims, turning on ... us. Some good enough to be their own short film. But these were too few and too far between for me. Tension didn't build properly because there wasn't enough character development for me to care when disaster struck. Even in a robot apocalypse I need humanity. That isn't to say I need to have human characters worth caring about, I would have taken a robot or two instead. Wilson didn't give me humanity. Further, I didn't get any social commentary as I have from some of the better apocalyptic science fiction like the Hunger Games trilogy by Collins, The Road by McCarthy, The Passage by Cronin, or Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Finney. The only message is a warning about the pervasiveness of technology in our lives.
This will likely make a great movie. I am sure that it has already been optioned. Parts of the book already read like a script. Some of the visual descriptions were written almost as if they were instructions for a director. The character outlines here in the book will be perfect for a two-hour movie. They just weren't enough for a 350-page book.(less)
The Leftovers takes a look at those left behind after the sudden disappearance of a large percentage of the world’s population. Was it The Rapture or...moreThe Leftovers takes a look at those left behind after the sudden disappearance of a large percentage of the world’s population. Was it The Rapture or some other unexplained phenomenon?
Whatever the cause, Perrotta spends no time trying to explain the how or the why of the extraordinary event that takes place, but instead spends his time delving into the lives of regular people living in a very normal, small town in America. Living in uncertain times, they must do their best to figure out how they can continue to live their lives. How can they cope with the loss they feel pressing in upon them at all times?
He writes utterly believable and flawed characters, the type of which you know. Their reactions to their overwhelming grief become a universal and very relatable story despite the unusual cause for their grief.
While I appreciated the writing and I felt compelled to finish the book, I must admit that I felt a lingering sense of sadness that the characters are put through the wringer and aren’t much better for the journey by the end of the book. While there is a note of hope in the ending, most of the characters end the book back where they started having not grown much at all. Perhaps that’s just a point that Perrotta’s trying to make: we resilient humans will find a way back to a sense of normalcy.
Not necessarily recommended for aficionados of post-apocalyptic fiction, as this book is not of that ilk. Instead recommended for those who like their literary fiction to have a scoch of satire and don’t mind leaving without all the answers.(less)