- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (4 Aug. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 009954704X
- ISBN-13: 978-0099547044
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,247 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Things We Didn't See Coming Paperback – 4 Aug 2011
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"A memorable debut...[and a] gleefully apocalyptic novel... as ever with this kind of dystopian fiction, there is a satisfying tingle in imagining an Armageddon just round the corner. But Amsterdam also gives his book an emotional heart" (Adrian Turpin Financial Times)
"What makes Things We Didn't See Coming such an impressive novel - and very impressive debut - is the playfulness of the writing contrasted to the grimness of the subject matter" (Christopher Potter Sunday Times)
"Rarely has the darkness of life been looked at with such buoyant irony, imaginative grace and disarming ardour. Read it once and then read it twice" (Eileen Battersby Irish Times)
"A small marvel, overflowing with ideas. Scary, funny, shocking and touching by turns" (Justine Jordan Guardian)
"Here's that rare thing - a post-apocalypse novel that's more than doom and gloom. A treat to read - playful, intelligent and intriguing" (Daily Mail)
A mesmerising debut set in a not-too-distant future, in a landscape at once utterly fantastic and strangely familiar.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
I had the privilege of hearing Steven Amsterdam read from the book and answer questions. My question was, given that nothing dates faster than the future, did Steven Amsterdam think this was a book about the future or a book about our present fears and anxieties. Without hesitation, he replied that it was about the present day. In starting out with the Millennium Bug - the disaster that never happened - we are shown our own fallability in predicting the future. Later on, our hero watches Robocop and laughs at how badly wrong the predictions of the future turned out to be. This is no attempt at prediction; it's no warning about what might happen if we don't tackle climate change. No, it's a story very much about our thirst for doom, our neuroses of all that might go wrong in our own lifetimes.
The narration is not always easy. Steven Amsterdam writes in a spare, haunting style. He presents images rather than fine phrases. Our hero is a man of few words. A latterday cowboy, drifting from one job to another, pretty ambivalent to issues of right and wrong. He's neither good nor bad, he just is - in a world where those with more polar personalities fall by the wayside. Our hero is a survivor without ever truly understanding how it is he who survives.
The visions of Hell are interesting - especially the segregation of urban and rural people.Read more ›
Its been compared to The Road, but I think post-apocalyptic scenario aside, its got very little in common with it. The Road is a visceral read, full of near biblical prose, imbued with meaning. It has characters with a sense of love, sacrifice and humanity - we are there with them pushing that cart, starving hungry, battling to survive. The Things We Didnt See Coming on the other hand presents us with shallow characters whose motivations and desires seem petty, banal and more than a little confusing. I think in some sense thats what Amsterdam was after - that we go on being flawed beings even in the wake of events such as the near destruction of mankind. There are moments, for example in the closing chapters, where you almost begin to care for the people he depicts; I liked the dreamlike feel of the protaganist meeting up with his shaman father towards the end as he attempts to heal his son.Read more ›
For a novel to trace the story of a young man through his life in a country devastated by some terrible event, you would expect to see some character development as well. However the central voice does not change - whether a teenager, a young man in his twenties or beyond towards the end of his life - he speaks in the same way, with the same thoughts, the same tone. I would have thought that the unspoken event which causes the collapse of society would have had a significant effect on those left behind - but apparently our 'hero' is unchanged throughout his life.
Add to this the rather unconnected and fragmented chapters, we are left with something that really fails to engage the audience into the lives of the sketchy characters on the page.
I really fail to see why this has been received so positively. It is a shallow piece of writing and one that shows very little promise.
As the novel continues forward we see a civilisation that is crumbling. Our narrator is doing what he can to avoid falling through its cracks. He is at the whim of unpredictable changes in global circumstances that have altered millions of lives; things we didn't see coming. Amsterdam's decline in civilisation is piecemeal. Small changes have large implications globally and for the individual.
Much of what has happened to the narrator between the chapters of his story is left to the reader to try to piece together. This gives the novel a fragmented feel; making this a series of vignettes of a world in decline, rather than a traditional dystopian narrative. This broken form of storytelling will not be to everybody's tastes, but whilst I enjoyed some chapters more than others, I liked the extra wiggle room the device allows. It prompts the reader to think about what the chain of events might have been, and how they relate to our world. The majority of modern dystopian novels are published with the young adult market in mind, so tend to be narrative driven.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not as good as i was hoping. But worth a read.
This book has some good idea's and the early stages are written well.
The later chapters are lacking something. Read more
Really boring. Put it down for good just after halfway. Just a series of scenes of apocalyptic nuisance (not even really disaster), with unlikely governments, authorities and jobs. Read morePublished on 18 Oct. 2012 by Nyoman Bagaskoro
I recently re read this book, after reading Amsterdam's second novel What the Family Needed. They are very different books but equally wonderful, I can't recommend them enough. Read morePublished on 26 Sept. 2012 by E. R.
Droughts, fireballs, floods, authoritarian regimes run by faceless figures, epidemics, anarchy, gangs of criminals, hiding in hills to avoid society, widespread drug dependence... Read morePublished on 31 May 2012 by Tom Doyle
Things We Didn't See Coming is the story of one young boy, 9 years old on the eve of the millennium, and his subsequent journey through a world irrevocably changed by Y2K. Read morePublished on 27 Jan. 2012 by Kat
I must start by saying that dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels are not my thing. Not usually anyway. Read morePublished on 5 Aug. 2011 by Rose Maroc
I bought this book off the back of a newspaper review and was not disappointed. Fans of classic apocalyptic fiction will really enjoy this very human take on the genre. Read morePublished on 22 Feb. 2011 by GReview
I picked up this book by chance, but was more than happy I did. In our recent times of global crisis, Amsterdam's novel couldn't be more pertinent. Read morePublished on 24 Nov. 2010 by Sydney Bristow
An unconventional short novel this one, structurally more like a semi-poetic collection of episodes. Read morePublished on 10 Nov. 2010 by Remus