Thursday, March 5, 2015


I just finished a great little book, which I'm dying to tell you about, but don't really know how to describe.

I don't normally read or watch movies about pandemics. They scare me to death because they hit a little too close to home. I used to think it was nuclear weapons that would do us in. Then I thought it might be global warming and lack of water. Now I'm fairly certain that it will be a simple strain of flu that we just weren't prepared for, and that's the premise behind this book. But it's not so much about what happens during the pandemic as it is about the 15 or 20 years afterwards, and the very few people who survive it.

The main character is Kirsten, a child actress at the time of the collapse who, 15 years later, is an actress with the Traveling Symphony -- a small troupe of actors and musicians which travels  the Great Lakes area, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Tatooed on Kirsten's arm is a line from Star Trek: "Because survival is insufficient."

One of the first things to fail was all forms of communication. Phone service, internet, television, newspapers, transportation -- all of that disappeared in a matter of weeks, when there were no longer enough healthy people to support the infrastructure. It really gets one to thinking about how our kids, who never knew anything before the internet/google/smart phone age, would actually deal with all of this. Sometimes I even found myself wondering who was luckier -- the few who managed to survive the disease, or those who were quick to succumb? That sounds depressing I know, but the book is actually full of beauty and life and humanity as well.

Perhaps this Kirkus review I found on the back cover sums it up best: "An ambitious take on a post-apocalyptic world where some strive to preserve art, culture, and kindness...Think of Cormac McCarthy seesawing with Joan Didion...Magnetic...A breakout novel."


Corrine at said...

I thought about this one, but I put it back. Might try it next go around. Thanks xox

Kelley said...

I loved this book too, Becky. I'm drawn to post-apocalyptic fiction (for some strange reason) and this was one of the best I've read. I absolutely adored its message of reaching for the best in life - thriving vs. just surviving.

Donna Lange said...

I might have to give this one a read, sounds interesting, thanks for the review! I use to read a lot as a young adult and that has definitely fallen by the wayside, but books fuel the imagination. You have inspired me to read again.

Hill Country Hippie said...

Corrine, go for it! I think you'll like it.

Kelley, I read a lot of dystopian fiction, but after seeing the movie Contagion, I've shied away from anything to do with pandemics. Glad I made an exception for this one!

Donna, funny you should mention "young adult", as that's the section where I find all my best novels these days!