Sunday, November 7, 2010

Two More End of the World Novels

Ah, end of the world fiction it used to be my favorite. Now I feel like a turkey-stuffed, not the good kind of full, but the "if I eat one more bite, I'm going to explode" full. I think I am ready to leave this lovely genre for a bit, and zombies-I have had enough of thee as well. Between Rot &Ruin, Zombies vs Unicorns, Autumn, and The Walking Dead on AMC, I am done. For a while. I sent back Handling the Undead without reading it.

But for those who are plugging along at the end of the world, may I recommend two titles that are must reads. Both deal with the IMMEDIATE reaction to a world ending event, but both are original and unique.

Noise reads like a manifesto for an organization that is readying itself for a world ending event. Now that the event has occured, two of the org's more serious members are following the plan, bullet point by bullet point. Whether it is recruiting, checking for messages, or restocking supplies, these guys are on the ball. This is such an interesting concept-the idea of survival that replaces religion. In order to be ready for an event, the guys have been prepping for months-learning the language, stocking supplies, securing a location. It is not anarchy or chaos, it is so organized-but they discover things that are not included in the manifesto.

A great deal of thought went into this novel, and it is not an easy read. I did appreciate it, and could not wait to find out what happened next. This is strange, because I did not understand the main characters (it's hard to be in their heads), they change names so I lost track of who was who every once in a while, and the book is grim. Of that there is no doubt. Still, highly recommended if you loved Into the Forest, The Stand, or Swan Song.
On the flip side we have A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, which also takes place immediatly after the "event", here a war. What is so very original about this story is that our main character is a homeless orphan (think Oliver Twist with fantastic art ability) who was used to life on the streets before the fall. As he is already used to scraping and hiding to survive, he and a rag tag group of survivors hole up in an abandoned amusement park. This book was filled with great imagry and really unique characters. I loved that the first instinct was to hide in the library, and there is a scene in which the Friends of the Library arrive with vans and try to evacuate as many books as they can.
My only problem with this story was the constant foreshadowing, and most of it was inaccurate. There's a bit where the character says something about a girl being "the end of us all" and implies that she is the group's downfall, and that is not at all how it plays out. There were several instances of this. It took me right out of the story, and I found myself going, "what was the point of that then?"
I still highly recommend it. There is some great discussion topics here. Another one for the end of the world canon. Now on to lighter, alive things....