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2.66  ·  Rating details ·  269 ratings  ·  57 reviews
With The Player and The Return of the Player, Michael Tolkin established himself as the master novelist of modern Hollywood. In his new novel, NK3, the H LYW OD sign presides over a Los Angeles devastated by a weaponized microbe that has been accidentally spread around the globe, deleting human identity.

In post-NK3 Los Angeles, a sixty-foot-tall fence surrounds the hills
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by Atlantic Monthly Press
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Average rating 2.66  · 
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Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
NK3 versus Zone One

Tolkin brings a literary mind to a post-apocalyptic zombie genre where healthy Americans with normal appetites, but no pre-apocalypse memories, stand in for your typical flesh-munching zombies. The change from flesh-eating, to an instead memory-less zombie, produces a no less scary or dangerous world.

Reading Tolkin I was constantly reminded of Colson Whitehead's Zone One. Tolkin achieves where I think Whitehead fails. Both write well. Whitehead likely has the edge when it
Tom Wurzbach
Mar 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
What better way to hide deplorable writing and poor character development skills than to write a book where none of the characters have a back story or a personality? Brilliant.

I'm not sure why I finished this book except that I kept thinking the story had to go ... somewhere. It didn't. It ended abruptly and clumsily; there was no resolution to one of the major early subplots (the plane) and no idea of the future of any of the players. But the ending wasn't the only disappointment; I didn't
Wow, what a disappointment. No character development or back stories. Plodding plot that goes nowhere.

The only reason I gave this one star was because I listened to the audiobook: MacLeod Andrews is such an outstanding narrator.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2017

So, obviously this guy went to Burning Man, and was like, "What if EVERY DAY was like this?" I mean, it was a Burn from the minute these people are talking about radical inclusion, and The Man and The Woman. Come on. We get it. You're a Burner.

But even with all that, this could have been such a good book! But the writing was very vague and the plot is convoluted. It SEEMS that writing characters with no memories or emotions would be easy, but I think it is more difficult to make it truly
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tolkin has always been something of an existential doom laureate of the Greater Los Angeles sprawl, with its myth-generating factories and insidious personal narratives. As I have long claimed that Los Angeles movies tend to be end-times movies (KISS ME DEADLY perhaps being the preeminent urtext), it would seem appropriate that Tolkin would eventually produce a postapocalyptic book about the city which has provided such fertile ground for his vision of what is casually worst in us. But this is ...more
Kathleen Gray
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
I gave up on this and DNF because I found it confusing and disjointed. Tolkin has an interesting premise that he didn't really follow through on. I couldn't find a character I cared about. That said, this isn't really my genre so try it if you like dystopian tales or sci-fi. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
Annette Scherr
Feb 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed reading this dystopian fiction and kept on going anticipating some sort of dramatic ending. As I read I struggled trying to fathom how all the loose threads would bind together. I read on faithfully to the end where my expectations were promptly deflated. This book could have been the bomb but instead it was the bust. I'm glad Los Angeles hasn't been reduced to rubble and burn fields and that lax is still operating so I can still catch a flight to Cabo on the 15. Writing ability ...more
Rob Christopher
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I think this could've used another draft or two. Some really interesting ideas are nearly swamped by choppy storytelling and plot threads that are abruptly dropped without any reason. There are still some darkly funny and insightful bits though.
Mar 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
I thought it was an interesting idea but the book went nowhere and was not worth my time
Unseen Library
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of NK3 from Allen & Unwin Australia to review.

I did a short review of this book in the Canberra Weekly:

Originally reviewed back in December 2017, I have re-published this review on my blog as part of my Throwback Thursday series.

For other interesting reviews, visit my blog at:
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Post-apocalypse L.A. meets Burning Man...
Kendra Haggerty
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Pilling
Nov 17, 2016 rated it liked it
This was interesting my only previous time reading him was The Player.

The book resembles in many ways early Ballard but without some of his harsher elements.

Characters lack something which is probably deliberate and fits with the premise of the book , but it has something about it which for me meant that all the positives got eaten away at , and I finished admiring the book but slightly disappointed
Matthew Brady
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
This is an odd book, but an interesting one, even if I'm not sure of the metaphors it's using. It's a post-apocalyptic story about people rebuilding society in Los Angeles after a genetically engineered plague wipes out everyone's memory. The few people who were able to get some treatment in the early days of the plague are all that's left to lead society, and they've set themselves up as a ruling class in a walled-off section of the city, using the Drifters that wander around as manual labor ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

North Korea released a virus that turns people into Drifters, or essentially, Zombies. Some people are immune, or have been retrained in time. All technology has been lost – except one plane out of there. I didn’t hang around long enough to find out if they even left.

“Deliciously dark prose”? Try incomprehensibly dark plot line. I tried
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I've heard reviews calling Michael TolkinNK3 the "first book of the Trump era." This is an apt description, in ways. The world's people have lost their memories. Through rehab, some of the surface levels of social connection have returned, and most people are operating on the basic, shallow level of food and sex. Think of a Burning Man festival that never ends. No roving gangs of bloodthirsty whatevers lurking at every turn, at least in the City Center. Post-apocalyptic stories are usually far ...more
Rick Kohut
May 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
An interesting premise to be sure - a mysterious North Korean virus wipes the memory of everyone in the U.S. Some of the more prominent survivors have gone through a process to restore at least some of their memories and therefore their identities. With this framework, there's many directions the author could have gone.

Unfortunately, he went small rather than big. A more engaging book for me would have been a broader, country-wide or global story about this impact of this civilization-changing
Katie (wife of book)
Oct 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
The problem with the premise of this book, is that if you have a nano bot that wipes people's minds then there can be no character development.
The tale of a plague of nano bots that accidentally got out of hand and screwed up the world is kind of interesting. It reminds us that our demise may well be a slip up! The way humanity copes and utilities what they have has potential as a story but, as I said, the concept of the story is its downfall.
No one remembers how they are or how they are related
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Set in a world where North Korea releases an unproven chemical/biological attack that strips the human mind of memories and the ability to retain basic logic and relationship connections. On one hand, a dire post-apocalyptic world where no one is self-sufficient or knowledgeable - or if they are knowledgeable, they are quickly considered a threat to the people in charge who lack those memories and mental skills. At many points, this book paints scenes and the outline of a story that would make a ...more
Ken Ransom
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction

NK-3 is a weaponized nanobacterium that destroys people's memories. The reader won't have trouble remembering the characters in the story of the world brought down by the loss of memory since each chapter is titled with a list of of who is appearing next.

There are various degrees of memory loss in this dystopian tale of an aristocracy living in hedonistic excess surrounded by a sixty-foot tall wall keeping out thousands of Drifters and Shamblers who serve the elite until they are no longer
Mike G
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hal Carim
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
A dystopian novel of survivors in the West Coast of USA following a North Korean biologic bomb attack wiping peoples long term memories (partially to completely) and the consequent emerging societies of the Verified in their walled city exercising the power of their partial memory over those outside of the neo-helots - Drifters, Shamblers, and Bottle Bangers.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
I tried over several days to get into this novel but finally gave up about 75% of the way. The post apocalyptic story line got me interested, but the characters seemed particularly nondescript making it hard to get into. It reminded me of the basic outline of Blindness by Jose Saramago but without engaging characters.
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Boring throughout, kept waiting for it to get better and it didn't. The characters weren't developed well at all, and their names were simply annoying.

I *guess* the author was going for an esoteric ending, but instead it just felt empty and superfluous. I like a lot of dystopian novels, but I cannot recommend this one.
Dan Hyer
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Set in a post-apocalyptic world after North Korea has unleashed a virus that destroys memories. More of a story about the journey than the destination, as the city slow disintegrates. My biggest complaint about the book is that it seems to end with a whimper, not a bang. The fate of the characters is unknown.
William Poehlman
Sep 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
I'd be happy if Michael would finish writing this story. It's obvious that when he was suddenly called away to do a screenplay or whatever, his secretary/ assistant accidentally found this unfinished manuscript and sent it off to the publisher.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Nicely fucked up dystopic piece. Characters definitely had agency. Got a little too mystical for my tastes by the end and Tolkien definitely doesn't think much of humanity's innate goodness if your opinion is based on this book.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it did not like it
Cool idea with a poorly executed and cartoonish plot. The characters blend together and are hard to differentiate. This novel would have been much more enjoyable and easier to read if it had been more grounded. Hard to finish this one.
Chris devine
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book has a pretty cool premise, but the story is just boring and goes no where, until the writer just decided to stop writing at some point and just abruptly end it. Maybe there is going to be a book two where the story continues, but I'll skip it.
Sep 11, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2017-new
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Michael Tolkin is an American filmmaker and novelist. He has written numerous screenplays, including The Player (1992), which he adapted from his 1988 book by the same name, and for which he received the 1993 Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. A follow-up book, Return of the Player, was published in 2006.

Tolkin was born in New York City, New York, the son of Edith, a studio executive,
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