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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post apocalyptic fiction at its finest., 18 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Metro 2033 (Paperback)
Admittedly I first heard of Metro 2033 after seeing previews for the video game adaptation earlier this year and wanted to read the book first. While the game turned out to be a bit disappointing, the book blew me away.

If you didn't know by now, Metro 2033 is set a few decades after total nuclear war where the citizens of Moscow have taken refuge in the city's underground metro line. After discovering a new threat to the underground, the main character Artyom is given the job to deliver news of this threat to "Polis" - the unofficial capital of the Metro line.

It all seems pretty standard adventure fare but great writing and wonderfully realised environments set this apart from other post-apocalyptic fiction.

Dmitry Glukhovsky is not afraid to take his time to really tell the story. The settings are described in incredible detail and it's hard not to place yourself in the shoes of the characters. Even from the opening sequence - a campfire scene of sorts - you really feel as if you are there with them listening to the survivors' stories. Each metro station seems incredibly varied considering the relatively short distance between them and the connecting tunnels and sub-tunnels are menacing and not to be ventured into alone.

You really are with Artyom every step of the way. The enclosed map of the Metro system helps you as the reader follow his steps and by the latter parts of the book where he is having to constantly deviate from his path you are very much grateful to have this map. It does seem a bit stange reading in this way at first, but afterwards you get a sense of immersion that isn't usually present in fiction. You aren't just being told where the characters are going, you are navigating with them.

Metro 2033 maintains a hightened sense of tension throughout and this is mostly present due to the arduous treks from station to station. The connecting tunnels are rife with dangers of all sorts from both friendly and hostile factions of people to twisted mutations from the radiation above to chilling paranormal entities. Every time Artyom reaches the safety of another station you are just as relieved as he is. It's often uncomfortable reading, but in a good way.

There are many set pieces in the book and it rarely becomes boring. Some highlights include run-ins with neo-nazis and a hugely tense journey through the streets of Moscow above while being stalked by "something." Even the quieter moments are eerie, with Artyom listening to grisly stories from each checkpoint about the surrounding tunnels and stations and they just make the whole microcosm of the Metro even more believeable.

Metro 2033 is one of the finest (if not the most well known) examples of post-apocalyptic fiction you are likely to read. It ticks off all the boxes of what good science fiction/horror should be and (if you can forgive the sometimes shoddy English translations) is a hugely enjoyable reading experience.
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