Wool by Hugh Howey (2011)
The first in a series of dystopian novellas, Wool is about the sheriff of a large subterranean city called the Silo. People in the Silo can only view the outside world on a screen that shows a live feed from the cameras outside. Since the air outside is toxic, leaving the Silo is a death sentence for the criminals sent out to clean the cameras.
Wool is short, but well-developed. It leaves a lot of questions unanswered, so I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
You might like this book if you are interested in…
- Being trapped in a silo
- Short stories
- Doomsday Preppers
- Post-apocalyptic worlds
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)
Station Eleven begins with a present day performance of King Lear, during which a famous Hollywood actor named Arthur Leander dies on stage. Leander’s death is quickly overshadowed by the onset of a flu pandemic, which wipes out almost all of the world’s population and completely shatters our modern way of living.
Two decades later, a young woman named Kirsten who was a child in the King Lear performance, has found a home in the Traveling Symphony, a small troupe of actors and musicians that travels between scattered villages.
Station Eleven jumps around in time to events before, during, and after the pandemic, telling the stories of many different people, all connected in some way through Arthur Leander.
After hearing so much praise for Station Eleven online, I knew I had to read it. I didn’t know much other than the fact that it was a post-apocalyptic book, so I wasn’t sure what to make of the initial King Lear part of the story. I was hooked when out of nowhere I read:
Of all of them there at the bar that night, the bartender was the one who survived the longest. He died three weeks later on the road out of the city.
Overall, I thought that Station Eleven was interesting and worth reading, but I’m not quite sure it lived up to all the hype I saw.
You might like this book if you like…
- Global epidemics
- Hollywood celebrity gossip
- Post-apocalyptic stories
- The Walking Dead
- Religious fanatics
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood paints a bleak view of the future. The main character, who goes by the name Snowman, believes he might be the only human left alive after a biological disaster. He is barely getting by, living on the remnants of the now non-existent society: cans of sausages, broken sunglasses, and warm bottles of beer when he can find them. He tends to a small group of genetically-modified humanoids while living in a tree to avoid artificially-created hybrid animals.
As the story progresses, Snowman reveals what led to the destruction of mankind through a series of flashbacks. When he was a boy (he was “Jimmy” back then), he lived in a corporate compound with his emotionally-absent parents, where he met Crake, a brilliant boy who would become Jimmy’s best friend. Everything had become so desensitized that in addition to playing computer games together, Jimmy and Crake also watched child pornography and live tortures and executions online. One of their favorite games is called Extinctathon, a game that ranks you based on your knowledge of extinct plants and animals. While browsing the Internet, they come across Oryx, a mysterious girl who secretly intrigues both Jimmy and Crake.
I know Oryx and Crake has a lot of fans, but I thought it was just so/so. Some of the ideas were intriguing: genetic engineering, transhumanism, corporate compounds, living in a post-apocalyptic world, etc.
My main problem with the book was its odd characters who were hard to sympathize with. Jimmy is kind of a mopey, pathetic guy who plays a fairly passive role in the story (though I did like his interest in old words no one uses anymore). Oryx is mysterious and frequently described as “wisp-like”… a hard character to understand. Crake is an aloof and brilliant scientist who has his own way of seeing things.
Overall, I liked the book and wanted to find out what had happened… I just didn’t love it. :-/ *Shrugs*
I should also mention that Oryx and Crake is the first book in a trilogy. The Year of the Flood takes place at the same time as the events in Oryx and Crake, but from a different perspective. MaddAddam, which was released this summer, is a continuation of the two previous novels.
Yesterday, I finished The Gunslinger by Stephen King, the first book in the Dark Tower series. I’d never read anything by Stephen King before and I heard that the Dark Tower series was amazing, so I decided to try it out.
The Gunslinger is an interesting mix of fantasy (my favorite genre) and western (unappealing to me, but I decided to give it a try anyway) in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s about a man named Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger, who pursues his adversary (“the man in black”) across a vast desert and beyond.
I have to admit I didn’t really like it. The story dragged, there were too many weird and confusing things going on, and I felt like I missed an explanation about why the gunslinger was going after the man in black and “The Tower.” At least it was fairly short, so I convinced myself to trudge through it.
I heard the rest of the Dark Tower series is a lot better once you get past The Gunslinger, so maybe I’ll read The Drawing of Three (book #2) someday… I’m just in no hurry to do that. :-/