I have really enjoyed other works by Will McIntosh - Defenders and Love Minus Eighty - which I came to through reading an excerpt in Lightspeed. SO when I saw this one on my BookBub - I bought it.
I couldn't read it - or rather I read the first couple of chapters and just couldn't be bothered. I wasn't drawn in, and didn't like the 'good guy's' who were poor.
I just found some of the events too bloody awful to want to read. And I'm a fan of post -apocalyptic fiction. It is a well written novel that I hated. Having recently read The Water Knife - Paolo Bacigalupi which is a ecological apocalypse and found that so much more engaging, even tho' that author can be heavy going. So really just an off day with this novel.
I love tales of the apocalypse. I love whole continents sliding into the sea, epidemics wiping mankind off the face of the Earth in fits of coughing (and the odd buboe). I love the searing flash of the Doomsday bomb, the searing heat and blast of ashes. We're all doomed anyway, in some slow apocalypse in which we all die one at at time... and who will know we were there in a hundred, thousand or hundred-thousand years time? When you think that the oldest piece of Western "modern" art isn't yet a thousand years old... how young is our literature... even the Epic of Gilgamesh only exists in fragments and that was fired in clay, not scrawled on paper or vellum. So, obviously, I found this book interesting. I'd never really thought about an apocalypse based on the economic downturn; the unemployable turning into drifting tribes of beggars and outcasts, infrastructures collapsing as money becomes scarce. We've seen it happening... it's just that we never realised that the end of days could be so... depressingly everyday! And this is where I feel McIntosh started to lose it fairly early on. Instead of pursuing the "soft" decline of civilisation he decides to step up a gear by introducing bioengineered terrorism; viruses, choking weeds and stuff like that... there was no need to make it more spectacular... the drift was, potentially, frightening enough.
loved it....wasn't too sure about this one as had seen a couple of mixed reviews on amazon. loved the idea that people continue to look for love as the world ends. The characters we sympathetic and their development through the years seemed very realistic. The end worked for me too.
It is always nice to read a book and get a match between the expectations signalled by the title and the text. This novel is not about a 'hard' apocalypse, the unrelenting misery of trying to survive, as in The Road, for example. It is also not a stylish acceptance of apocalypse, as in The Drowned World, although we do see some empty swimming pools.
In the very near future economic collapse, wars over resources, government weakness, out of control gangs (known for some reason as Jumpy-Jumps) and new (possibly genetically-engineered) diseases have created a two tier society: the very rich who live in protected communities and the poor, everyone else. Jasper, the focus character, is a teenager with his 'tribe', his friends, who wander and trade/odd job as appropriate. His parents disappeared during water riots and he assumes they are dead.
So far so good. But one annoying feature of this book is the string of romances that Jasper engages in, mostly with little success, which do not work within this sub-genre. Jasper's virtual speed-dating episode is very funny, and made an award-wining short story in Interzone #200. But does 'funny' belong in apocalypse?
The other odd element in that short story was the prevalence of bamboo, growing wild in the streets in Savannah. In the short story, it seemed merely weird but in this novel it takes on a different role. Apparently 'radical' scientists have worked out a plan to revive civilisation, involving gene-engineering bamboo and a new virus, called Doctor Happy, which basically does what its name suggests. This plan is not convincing and falls uncomfortably between doing nothing and doing something that might work.
Overall though there is enough 'apocalypse' here to produce a useful addition to the canon.