Tuesday, 24 October 2017

THE DARK ROADS by Wayne Lemmons @wayne_lemmons

3.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Amazon.com
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: Amazon browse ('also boughts').

Genre: Post Apocalyptic.

I loved the premise of this book.  It's an alternative reality set in the immediate future, in which climate change began to have a devastating effect on the world as early as 2015/6.  By 2021, it is no longer safe to be above ground during daylight hours, and anyone caught thus is instantly burnt to a crisp.  Most people are dead, water and food are scarce, and the heat has rendered vehicles unusable; the world is dying.  Three young men (Buddy, Richie and Elvis) are travelling on foot from Florida to Alaska, in the hope of finding some relief from the heat.  The story is their journey (I adore post apocalyptic cross-country stories, can't get enough of them!), as on the way they meet a few other survivors, struggle with near death as they almost get caught with no safe place to be before sunrise, cope with their own losses and, of course, are pursued by the evil 'feeders' ~ cannibals.

The book could do with a professional editor, or at least a more experienced pair of eyes; there are instances when a clunky omniscient narrator pops up out of nowhere, and a little head-hopping now and again, most noticeably in the epilogue, which changes from narrator to a first person point of view, out of the blue.  Also, there are times when the story skips over the boundary between fiction and unfeasible; the group find shelter in department stores and service stations, but there never seem to be any houses.  The author has a good handle on the effect of heat on some items, but now and again chooses to ignore his findings for the sake of the plot.  The group has a never ending supply of ammunition whenever needed, but I can't see a) where it comes from or b) how they could possibly have carried it all along with the food and the other utensils, medical supplies, etc.  

However (and it's a big 'however'!), Wayne Lemmons is a good storyteller and I was able to suspend my disbelief, most of the time.  I looked forward to getting back to it with each session.  The basics are all there.

I would have given it 3.5* rounded up to 4 on Amazon (because 4* means 'I like it', and I did!), if it wasn't for the epilogue, which was a big disappointment.  The whole book is about them getting to Alaska, where they hope to find a temperature in which they can sustain life, but there is no evidence to show that life is going to be much easier there, and the epilogue itself is less than two pages long.  I felt as though someone had told the author that he had to finish the book by lunch time, or something, so he just scribbled down anything without giving it much consideration, let alone the painstaking redrafting that all novels need.  It doesn't do the rest of the book justice.  BUT (and it's a big but!), I liked it enough to want to take a look the next book, which I will.   It's good, it's not bad at all - it just could have been terrific, that's all. 

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