Friday, 25 April 2014

The Wasteland Saga by Nick Cole

The Wasteland Saga is a post-apocalyptic trilogy with a difference. Where other authors perhaps concentrate on the interesting question of: What if there was a nuclear war? Or perhaps: There has been a nuclear, what now? What Nick Cole does is look back, introspectively. Feelings of guilt, anger, regret and hopelessness are fully explored throughout the Wasteland Saga. Sounds depressing? Not at all. Cole’s realistic narrative was not only a breath of fresh air but a brilliant exploration of the human condition, after the bomb has dropped.

In the first part/novel we follow the Old Man on his journey across the Wasteland. The reason for his solo road trip? To rid himself of his curse. Whilst other members of his small community are able to find salvage, for nearly a hundred days, the Old Man returns to the village empty handed. He feels a burden and useless. This journey of exploration has him dealing with his feeling and making discoveries along the way. He proves to be a resourceful character and one thing I must stress is the emotional intelligence Cole weaves into his characters. You get so involved. This novel felt special in a way that very few novels do – it gripped me, it made me feel his emotions. I could almost feel the hot desert wind on my cheek.

Yet, this is not just a dry emotional journey, it’s an adventure story too. I don’t tend to give away plot points in my reviews so I’ll leave it there for part one.

The second part deals with Savage Boy. The boy is unsure of his heritage, all he knows is that he was raised by a US Soldier, Sergeant Presley, now dead. There is much more action in this novel but again a lonely introverted narrative – the boy is joined by the voice of Father figure Presley, who lives on in the boy’s thoughts. Again, Cole concentrates on the human story and we feel the aching loneliness of life in this terrible, poisoned world.

I can’t say a great deal about the third novel without giving away a few things so I’ll just say this – you’ll be moved to tears by the expert story telling of this fantastic author who combines elements of the first two novels in a dramatic conclusion. This novel will be hailed as a classic landmark of the genre.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Wool by Hugh Howey

I had heard of the novel before I bought it, I knew that it had critical acclaim but as always I chose to just plunge in and form my own opinion.  Post apocalyptic, dystopian and captive universe novels have always fascinated me. The whole quest of: What if we had a fresh start? Captures my imagination. I'm a pessimist and a bit of a cynic so it is perhaps unsurprising that this kind of fiction appeals to me.

Wool is most definitely a page-turner. I wanted to discover the secrets of the silo from the opening pages. Howey kept me reading at a voracious rate. The story telling aspect was top notch, the prose was uncluttered and it flowed superbly. However, I found the characters a tad undeveloped. Bernard was a convincing enough villain and we do discover his motivation ultimately but he's just a little two dimensional. A cartoon villain if you will. I felt much the same about Lukas. This strange dreamer was a character I could neither understand nor get to grips with.  Overall a book worth reading but it didn't rock my world. A solid three stars.