Book Review: Afterworld
Reviewed by Joelene Pynnonen
Political intrigue meets dystopian wasteland in this action-packed post-apocalyptic thriller.
The industrial world ended when a gene-splicing virus ravaged the human and animal population. Now, in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that used to be America, three distinct new species have emerged.
Neo-Sapiens, created by human genes merging with animal, are the greatest threat to humanity in this harsh new world. Loftlin is one of the few places that humans are safe from outside threats. Built at the end of a bitter war against the primate-human splices, the Monknarrs, Loftlin is heavily fortified and protected by highly trained Rangers.
Captain Simon Crandall, an elite Ranger, has found evidence that Loftlin is in grave danger. When the leaders of Loftlin refuse to listen to him, he is left with one option: find the one weapon that may save not only Loftlin, but perhaps the world.
First off, the writing in this novel is phenomenal. Battle scenes are particularly exceptional. McBee does such an excellent job of cranking the tension up to fever pitch as the war looms over the city.
There’s a hefty political and psychological angle to the novel that makes the actions and reactions of characters feel authentic. Like all good sci-fi, Afterworld holds a mirror up to our world. It explores themes of discrimination, cultural diversity, religion, and freedom. Despite this, it never sacrifices the enjoyment factor for politics.
In some ways, Afterworld feels like a traditional futuristic dystopia. There’s the usual fight for survival, the dangers of the unknown (human or otherwise), and the mourning for a lost world while navigating a harsh new one. In a couple of important ways, however, Afterworld is distinctive. Throughout the novel, a small light flickers—the faint glimmer of hope through the bleakness. From the outset, the novel refuses to fall into the “us against them” trope that is common in the genre. It digs deeper, exploring the nuances of the world within.
Afterworld holds together well, but there are times when scenes serve little purpose to the plot or character development. Other scenes rehash events we’ve already read from a different character’s perspective, and then there are the segments that richly detail something that has been ongoing for some time. Though the writing in Afterworld is excellent, the extraneous detail can weaken the tension and emotion of the novel.
Afterworld is a unique take on a classic genre. It does a fantastic job of keeping the elements readers love about post-apocalyptic sci-fi while adding its own twist. Fun, riveting and action-packed, Afterworld also manages to be introspective and self-aware. The combination makes a captivating read that stays with you after the last page has been turned.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy / Dystopia / Post-Apocalyptic
Print Length: 566 pages
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