26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Dark, stylised tale of American decline,
This review is from: American Rust (Paperback)
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This was quite a surprise. The first few pages, with their spare style and orchestrated intensity, had me expecting a fairly conventional thriller - but the story gradually revealed unexpected depth and nuance, whilst never losing pace or atmosphere. There are some fascinating characters to be found in here, as well as the wonderfully realised context of a decaying Pennsylvania mining town. Meyer's evocation of the urban and rural American landscape is impressive and thick with social and cultural connotations.
Meyer uses a tight structure, switching constantly between internal monologues to tell the story of two young men and their families working through the aftermath of the traumatic and morally confusing event that kicks the novel off. Operating within the bounds of genre fiction, he creates characters that both embody and exceed their archetypes - angry young men, small-town cops - and reveal themselves to be complex, crafted and conflicted. The shadow that the initial trauma casts over the characters really drives the story forward, screwing with relationships and putting the two protagonists under constant fear of retribution.
This is a confident, intelligent, subtle and morally complex page-turner with some great writing, impeccable characterisation and a singularly gritty, filmic atmosphere.