This is a bloody good read in that it ticks all the thriller boxes. In particular it rattles on at pace, introduces twists and keeps you guessing to the end. On the downside the production of the book seems rather rushed (maybe to beat real life?) with some untidy writing but it’s all perfectly readable.
My focus is on whether it’s believable, especially in the light of my own researches into peak oil and collapse. For that is the “what if” here and my answer is a qualified yes, despite a touch of over-dramatisation. The violence card gets overplayed and too early. One of the characters mentions Lord of the Flies and it’s an apt yardstick. Golding’s classic racks up the menace until it spills over into violence – more effective than starting at high pitch.
One slight plot hole concerns Jenny’s journey, which doesn’t make much geographic sense. Having the M1 erroneously running past Birmingham probably shows some confusion in the author’s mind – good trainspotting by me though!
At the denouement I rather sided with the baddies: this poor old planet does needs a damn good cull of the human race – motivation for my own apocalyptic book really. It’s schadenfreude on a grand scale in revenge for mankind’s arrogance. Much better to get it out on the page than in real life, eh? Discuss.
Because I’m attempting to write something along the lines of Love in the Time of Flu, why not see how the Master does it?
And he is a master of storytelling. This is a book to wave in the face of those who parrot, ‘Show, don’t tell’ when they critique your work. Marquez is an effective teller. He certainly kept me going for 346 big pages.
Having said which, I could happily have put the book down and not read another word at any stage. I wasn’t that interested in how it would turn out and I had no sympathy with any character. I do sympathise with that because it’s hard to write people in that fine line between sugar and acid. I tend too far toward acid myself.
My biggest gripe with the book – and here be plot spoiler so look away now – relates to my lack of sympathy for Florentino Ariza, the unrequited lover. In my world such a character loses most of his credibility the first time he shags another woman. When he becomes a serial offender, in fact an obsessive, I’ve lost the point of the story altogether.
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