****(5) out of 5 stars!
On May 30, 2004, the world transformed. Nearly all signs of civilization vanished, leaving in their wake a bizarre landscape of wilderness, advanced technology and magic[.]
I was not prepared to actually like this book very much. I received a free advance copy from the author after agreeing to participate in the blog launch tour for the book’s debut. As I was scheduled to do an interview with the author, I figured that I had better read a couple of chapters so that I had at least some idea of the concepts of the story, and therefore I might be able to ask some semi-intelligent questions. The conflux of fantasy and sci-fi really intrigued me, but I wasn’t sure how well a writer could pull it off with any degree of aptitude. But I definitely should not have doubted his prowess with the written word, because the author completely nailed it in this tome! Once I started reading this unique tale, I literally could not put it down.
[The transformation left] Harrison Cody very much alone. After weeks of surviving in solitude, he hears a voice on the radio, beckoning him to cross a thousand miles of terrifyingly random terrain to meet her, and any other survivors, in Chicago. Eager to find any remnants of humanity, he sets forth, joined by an unexpected — and inhuman — companion.
For Dorothy O’Neill, the end of the world means she will never finish ninth grade. On her own, she builds a home in the ruins of a strip mall, relying on her ingenuity and hard work to maintain some semblance of creature comforts. When another survivor arrives, he brings futuristic technology and stories of monsters he has encountered. Armed with this information, she takes a new interest in exploring her world, but she is not prepared for what awaits her, and the new arrival has brought his own set of problems.
I was quite confused about the initial introduction of the two protagonists, Harrison and also Dorothy, portrayed in alternating chapters from each of their points of view. They had no apparent or logical connection to one another, and no hint for the first half of the book that they will ever even have cause or opportunity to interact. That part really frustrated me for quite a while. When and how they finally do meet is a masterstroke of the narrative, and something that I definitely don’t want to give away. But the timing was impeccable, and just ironic enough to be believable; not to mention the understated way in which both these characters handle that introduction to some of the only other people they’ve seen since the mash-up. It was brilliant.
While the introduction of the other two core characters wasn’t nearly as poetic – well, okay, one of them was pretty funny anyway – I also greatly enjoyed the addition of Glimmer and Mitchell. All of the characters just fit together so well with how they interacted. And I loved the way in which their relationships developed and the course they took. At first, with the introduction of an adult male and a 14-year-old female character, I was a bit afraid there might be other, creepy versions in store for interactions between Harrison and Dorothy, not to mention between her and the peripheral character of John. Let’s just say that I was very glad of the reality that evolved instead!
Initially, it did take me a little while to warm up to Harrison. Upon reflection, I believe that it probably was just due to the culture shock of jumping mid-stream into his story, trying to gain some footing while working out the context and meaning of this strange new environment of his in which we are suddenly thrust. But as the explanations start to come forth and the world-building continues, we get a very good picture of not only the existence that Harrison finds himself in, but also the type of person that he is. Again, I had a very different first impression of him than what I ended up with later in the book. But can you blame me, when the very first scene shows him driving a hotrod car - with his eyes closed? Which is bad enough, but then is followed by giant sentient sunflowers tracking his movements, just proceeding the introduction of a real life (although dead) dinosaur. Yeah, it all took a bit of getting used to!
This bizarre world that the author creates proves so intriguing though. Some of the best and worst things from our fairly recent reality, combined with seeming impossible things from a magical realm, and advanced technology from some unknown future, all melded together in one big crock-pot of confusion. Random bits and pieces of this or that world are strewn around, while in other places buildings are cut right in half. Perhaps most bizarre of all is that fact that whatever technology does exist – be it indoor plumbing or advanced mapping equipment – works just as it would in its native environment, even without any evidence of outside connections or power sources or the like. A truly bizarre environment to navigate, but one that the author takes our characters through in dazzling fashion.
The writing was wonderful; the way in which the author puts phrases together is just superb. Even in the occasional slow stretches of the narrative, I still wanted to keep reading just to take in the words. And the dialogue between the characters was outstanding.
“So,” Glimmer asked enthusiastically, “are we looking for anything specific?” … “I’m not sure.” “Then are we looking for anything vague?” she asked with equal eagerness.
Okay, so, yes, despite this otherwise glowing review, there were a couple of down points. First, there was a bit too much language in some parts than I care for; nothing excessive, mind you, and I am a self-admitted prude when it comes to such things. (I just think there are much creative ways in which to express oneself.) But still, there were definite sections that contained quite a bit of foul language.
And even more annoying, there were several things that were mentioned, some almost in passing, that seemed like they should have been significant, but then were never brought up again. I’m just hopeful that some of these things will be addressed more in the subsequent books of the series.
Again though, overall, a superb story; one that I highly recommend, and that will most definitely be joining my Favorites list!
After signing up with the publisher (Curiosity Quills Press) to host a stop on my blog for the launch tour of the book, I received a free pdf copy of this title from the author,
and I have voluntarily provided an honest review.
(I read this book in November of 2016, and thought that I had posted a review of it then. Apparently however, in the midst of some family issues occupying my attention then,
I failed to actually do so. I am now posting it in March of 2017
- along with my sincere apologies to the author for the delay.)