Out: March 17, 2021
I’m really curious about how this book will do. On the one hand, the writer / artist does an incredible job of creating a visceral and gripping reading experience. On the other hand, I suspect the reaction will be a resounding: “too soon.” The story is essentially the worst-case scenario of our current, pandemic-dominated, world. What would happen if the fatalities became so disruptive that governance and economic production faltered and then collapsed? In the marketing materials, the publisher makes a comparison to Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” and “The Fall” does share with that literary masterpiece the idea that there’s virtually nobody left that one wants to run into – i.e. everybody left is looking out for number one, and is, thus, untrustworthy. While that’s not strictly true, it’s true enough that one has to treat everyone with suspicion and with a finger on the trigger (literally or figuratively, as one’s state of armament allows.) Looking at the matter from the other direction, everyone left has done (or will end up doing) something of which they aren’t proud.
The story is built around a blue-collar family. The father and two children (a teenaged daughter and pre-teen boy) had one of the early variants of the flu, giving them adaptive immunity with a less lethal strain. The mother, a health-care worker, succumbs to the highly lethal evolved variant, leaving the three to survive in a rapidly escalating apocalyptic scenario.
At first, the family tries to survive in the city, but the father discovers that there is no food left and there are dangerous elements about. The trio then heads to stay with relatives in the countryside, not without running into challenges. They end up in a town that is allowing “tourists” to stay (with all the fatalities, housing is the only necessity that’s not lacking,) but there is not enough food or medicine for everyone. The characters are repeatedly pressed up against the kinds of challenging scenarios one might expect in a post-apocalyptic winter wonderland. Most pressingly, the father suffers an infection that seems like it may have him on his deathbed.
This is an intense read. As I say, I’m not sure everybody’s ready for it. If you have anxiety about where we are presently, I wouldn’t recommend it as it might take you to dire places that you wouldn’t have imagined yourself. That said, for readers of horror, dark stories, dystopian and post-apocalyptic wasteland stories, it’s a strong entry.