4 / 5 Stars
Post apocalyptic novel told from an interesting viewpoint.
I eagerly requested this book from Netgalley as my fellow book-reviewers suggested it might be my sort of thing. And it was... kind of. I enjoyed it, but had a few minor reservations.
It tells the tale of 'Monster' - a woman who is left alone after humanity has been wiped out by war and the Sickness. She was fortunate enough to be in a Seed Store when things were getting apocalyptic outside, and has only one goal... to survive.
However, she's not alone. She discovers a girl who she calls Monster too - and becomes a mother of sorts to her. Together, they forge some sort of a life together, though there's a lot going on in the girl's head that the older woman has no idea about...
Firstly, let's start with what was good about this book. It has atmosphere in spade-loads. Thanks to the author's skilfully deft writing, I was thrown into this deserted, haunted landscape, and could visualise every detail of it. I liked the focus on the protagonist's survival too, rather than her emotions - in that aspect, it reminded me of The Martian.
I loved the sudden shift in narrative voice as well, about halfway into the book. It answered a lot of unresolved questions in a really clever way - a nice structural device that was satisfying to read.
As for the plot itself? Well, to be honest, I'm a bit done in with post-apocalyptic literature. Other books (such as The Girl with All the Gifts) I feel did it a bit better; they came at it from a more unusual angle. This one was mostly a survival story, and while it was beautifully executed, it didn't really cover any new ground. After all, haven't we heard the 'human race is wiped out by warfare / disease' story before? I'd like to hear one that's closer to what will probably happen; i.e. fighting for resources and land.
I also found the elusiveness of the story frustrating at times. Who released this mysterious 'Sickness'? What happened to get the human race to that point? Whilst I understand that this book wasn't designed to examine the downfall of humanity, a little more detail would have helped the reader to understand Monster's mind a bit more. Also, how the hell did a young girl survive through it all? This question was never really answered (or if it was, I missed it) and I found that slightly bemusing.
However, I think the author is staggeringly good writing deftly and elegantly, minus any waffle or weight - and that's a big thing in itself. I'd definitely read more of her stuff, but perhaps this wasn't quite the right story for me.