Can't wait for another novel from Steven Price.
This book takes the idea of a shattering disaster, and investigates what would happen to those in the midst of such a tragedy. What would the human cost and human reaction be? It turns out that the world quickly turns to chaos and self-interest, with the landscape of the novel nearly apocalyptic. There seems to be little order, no outside assistance, and hordes of marauding criminals.
However, in the end I seemed to have the same problem with this book as I do with others that are similarly post-apocalyptic in feel. I just couldn't feel truly engaged with the situation. It seemed so improbable that chaos and self-interest would immediately come to the fore, with men organizing themselves into roving gangs, and the patriarchal viewpoint unquestioningly restored, with women seen primarily as adjuncts to the action, with sexual violence hinted at.
So, read it if you like disaster stories. But if you're going to continually question why nobody is coming to assist the city, well, it might not be worth your time to puzzle through it. If you can let the niggling details slide and simply appreciate the deeper philosophical themes and the ideas of human nature vs. wider nature, then you may find the writing deep and rewarding.
This is a dark novel, set in Victoria after a major earthquake. The story follows three characters. Arthur Lear is an older man who lives alone in the house his grandfather raised him in. Arthur is an artist, a painter who hasn't worked on his art in some time. He is a man who feels his age, but the earthquake draws him out of himself to assist with digging others out and assisting them. Mercia is a single mother of two children, Mason and Kat, who runs a small cafe. She is a strong character and puts her children above other needs. Mason is Mercia's son, a small boy who notices more than other people think.
When the earthquake occurs Arthur has just been to the cafe and is at the nearby tobacco shop, where his friend Axa works. Mason is in the cafe with Mercia. Arthur survives the collapse of the building with minor injuries, but Mercia and Mason are buried for quite a while.
As we get a sense of the devastation around them, the lawlessness that has come upon the city, and the barriers to their finding loved ones, we get into each of the character's heads and see their motivations and the way they try to protect each other.
A very good read.
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