I’m a guy who likes all aspects of the apocalyptic/eschatological genre of science fiction. I read pretty much anything that isn’t zombie-related (because that is so freaking overdone). But this novel was just so slow, so drawn out, so needlessly detailed with minutia that it was hard to stay awake while reading it.
The characters are cut from cardboard. There was so much potential in all of them, but they fall into mere ciphers of human beings. The main character gets fired from his job, and shows no emotion whatsoever. In fact, even when the world as he knows it ends, he shows little emotion. His wife goes from loving mother to virtual madam in the space of a chapter. His daughter is boring. The woman they meet is boring. The only truly interesting characters are the two dogs they find and somehow manage to put through years of intensive training over the course of a few weeks.
How slowly paced is this book? The main character is shown posting a Facebook ad (in order to try and find other people). While that is quite possibly the most useless cry for help I’ve ever heard of, nearly 2% of the book is used to show him going through the online steps of setting up and posting a Facebook ad. Another meaty section of the book involves him walking into an abandoned gun shop and going over all the possibilities of firearms for his family. It should be a crime to make a story this bloody dull!
There’s all these near-impossible situations as well: The internet stays up and working for months after everyone else disappears. Ditto, electrical power, water and sewer, cell phone service, service station pay points … I can easily believe 99% of the population of the planet disappears in a puff of vacuum, but the rest strains any measure of logic and the resilience of a completely unmanned and uncared for infrastructure.
The aliens and the deus ex machina of the tale don’t show up until the last fifth of the book, and then there’s another long droning section detailing a strange version of history using a lot of pseudoscience and Babylonian/Mesopotamian mythology, but by then, I really lost interest. I found myself wishing the envisioned Third Loss would’ve occurred and this book had ended about 500 clicks earlier.
You can have a bad story and good characters. You can have bad science and good characters. You can have any combination with a good story. But when you’ve got mediocre characters, mediocre pseudoscience and, quite simply, the dullest story I have read in several years, you’ve got a big problem.
This novel reminds me of the horrid Will Smith adaptation of Matheson’s I Am Legend. It made no sense whatsoever, and had none of the style and charm of Vincent Price’s The Last Man on Earth, or even the camp of Charlton Heston’s Omega Man.
This book is an omega in the genre.