Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Alex Scarrow – Last Light

Oil engineer Andy Sutherland has bored his family for years with scare stories about how one day the oil supply could get cut off and disaster would follow. Following some unrest in the Middle East his predictions start to become true. Andy is stranded in Iraq at the time while his wife Jenny is in Manchester desperately trying to get home to their children who are in London surrounded by looters and lawlessness.

I love post-apocalyptic fiction and this book had been on my wish list for a while. It’s actually more apocalyptic than post-apocalyptic but that doesn’t matter, in fact I think it’s probably the better for it.

The narrative follows the Sutherland family who are all in different locations. Andy is working in Iraq, Jenny is in Manchester for a job interview Leona is at university and has to go and collect her brother Jake from boarding school and return to the family home in London, the chapters switch between the different family members. Leona and Jake’s chapters were my favourite although I did enjoy the whole book.

The book is quite disturbing as it is a potentially realistic situation that could occur. Having witnessed the riots across the country this summer it shows how fragile our society really is, so if there was some kind of major disaster that cut off the oil supply things could potentially break down pretty quickly if handled the wrong way by those in charge.

I liked the writing style and that fast pace of the book. I also liked that it was set (mainly) in the UK. The characters were interesting and the story engrossing. I’ll definitely be adding the sequel, Afterlight to my to read pile.

Right I’m off to stock up on tinned food …

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Simon Morden – Equations of Life

It’s twenty years after Armageddon. Samuil Petrovitch is a Russian immigrant living in the London Metrozone and researching at the university. He tries to keep to himself to avoid any unwanted attention but when he intervenes to prevent a kidnapping he puts himself onto the radar of the police and two separate gangs which causes big problems.

I’ve had this book in my to read pile for a little while. My Dad lent it to me as he said it was really good but the cover blurb wasn’t really grabbing my attention. My Dad started to badger me for it back so I bumped it up the to read pile and I’m really glad I did.

One of the big things that I loved about this book was the imagery of a post Armageddon London. Clapham Common and Regents park piled high with shipping containers acting as housing for the millions of people crammed into the metrozone, the area within the boundary of the M25 and the only habitable city in the country.

The story itself was interesting and engaging and I was hooked almost immediately. The pacing is fast throughout and the characters are varied and well written. Samuil is a flawed but likeable protagonist with an interesting back story that is lightly touched upon. Sister Madeline is a rebellious nun. In the post-armageddon world the job of a nun is to protect her priest so Madeline is good with guns. The other supporting characters are also interesting.

I’m really pleased I read this book and am very much looking forward to reading the following two books in the trilogy (they are currently in my to read pile awaiting my attention).

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Christopher Ransom – The People Next Door

When the seemingly perfect Render family move in next door to the Nash family strange things start to happen. Mick Nash quickly realises that all is not as it appears to be and starts to take steps to protect his family. But what is the Render’s secret?

I enjoyed Christopher Ransom’s previous two novels so I was looking forward to this one and it jumped up my reading pile. The premise was interesting and the story was fairly creepy. I liked the different viewpoints from the various characters. The pacing was good most of the time although there were a couple of places where it did feel a little slow.

Whilst the characterisation was pretty good I didn’t particularly like any of the characters which was a shame as it meant that I didn’t care too much what happened to them. This is probably what let the book down for me. I like to have some kind of emotional investment in the characters that I am reading about.

The cover and the book blurb mention a big twist to the book. I actually liked the twist and didn’t manage to guess it. My favourite part of the book was the ending, I thought it was well done and interesting and could make for a good sequel.

If you’re new to Christopher Ransom then I would advise against starting with this one (start with The Birthing House) as it is definitely not his best. I did enjoy it, just not as much as I enjoyed his previous work.