Sadistic and relentlessly grim.
There are two kinds of people in McIntosh’s post-apocalyptic future: evil bastards and really malevolent bastards. The difference is that the merely evil bastards, who the book follows through more than a decade of hopelessly ever-increasing decrepitude, sometimes regret the horrible things they have to do. You have to be an evil bastard to survive, but feeling bad about it makes it okay. Their evil acts and the really malevolent bastards’ horrible deeds gnaw endlessly at their souls, driving them to deeper and deeper despair. The horrors they witness numb them to the misery in which they wallow, until an even more unspeakable experience comes along, shattering their emotional barriers, and making their existence even worse.
I should also mention that if you have any fondness for dogs, you should avoid this book. The author must hate them, considering the variety of ways he came up with to make dogs suffer and die. The dogicide was even more repulsive than most of the human death and misery, and that’s saying something, because the human death and misery was explicit and vile.
Lest you think I’m exaggerating, and it can’t be that bad, I’ll give an example from early on in the book. On the way home from an uptown night club where he spent all his money to get in and meet someone only to be thrown out of the club in a span of minutes, Jasper stops by an art gallery on the wealthy side of town. A gang of anarchist thugs starts shooting up the art gallery and lines up the patrons in the back alley. The thugs mumble unanswerable questions to each patron and then casually shoot them in the head when they don’t answer correctly. Because Jasper is poor, they decide to let him go, but first they dump a bucket of urine and feces over his head, and force him to chew and swallow a cat fetus. This is just one example of many, and it’s not the worst in the book.
After reading halfway through this book, I had to force myself to finish it. I did not enjoy it at all. Soft Apocalypse is well-written but thoroughly unpleasant.