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Whisper Gatherers A Sci-fi Dystopian Adventure: Book 1 in the The Song of Forgetfulness Post Apocalyptic Sci-fi Cli-fi Series Kindle Edition
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|Length: 304 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I was immediately reminded of Russell Hoban’s book “Ridley Walker,” which is also laid in a future dystopian world and is written in a very carefully constructed future dialect of English that is quite a tour de force. McDonagh’s version is not so fully conceived, but in its own way it’s very effective.
I can find some things to criticize in this book. For example, all animals are supposed to have been destroyed except birds (and apparently insects), and yet drinking milk and eating cheese are mentioned, so some kind of dairy animal must exist somewhere. Also, the “Carnies” – those who crave meat – are shown chewing on bones – do we assume they are cannibals? And Cityplace is pretty high tech with widespread use of electricity, “comps,” and all kinds of automatic devices like the ones that spray disinfectant (the people became clean-freaks in order to defeat the plagues that decimated the population). Where are the factories that make these high tech devices, who maintains them, and where do the materials come from to fabricate them? There seems to be no connection to the wider world – this place called NotSoGreatBritishAlbion seems to exist in a vacuum, which might be possible, of course, if the devastation included wide swaths of the larger world. But the Agros, who are trying to take over Cityplace, have bombs and protective gear and yet seem to live apart from civilization.
Only one date is ever mentioned in the book – the Great Plague of 2086. If 2086 is meant to be in our own century and doesn’t reference some other starting point, then we’re apparently doomed to a complete meltdown pretty soon. I prefer my future history laid much farther in the future. After all, somebody born today would only be 71 at that time. Does anybody really believe civilization as we know it will be totally destroyed in 71 years?
In spite of these quibbles (and the fact that the book could use a little more copyediting), I really did enjoy it! It includes some really nice descriptions (“the voluminous skirt that spread around her legs like a thick, pink fog;” she “trundled off quicker than a beetle exposed from underneath a rock”). And a description of the devastated square: “The sun shot down daggers of brightness that illuminated patches of devastation. Split walkway stones jutted upward like mini volcanoes.”
And the characters held my interest, enough for me to give it four stars and enough that I plan to go ahead and read the next volume promptly. I confess, though, that I never figured out why the series is called “The Song of Forgetfulness” (unless it’s simply that all the people have forgotten their past history) or why this volume is called “Whisper Gatherers”!
The main character is a seventeen year old female girl named Adara. She lives in a place called Cityplace, which appears to be somewhere in the old country of NotSoGreatBritAlbian.
Adara is a heavyset, plain looking girl with a secret talent that may threaten her life if others find out. She tries to fit in with the rest of the young people in Cityplace, but finds it hard to be liked by other kids her age.
The local inhabitants of Cityplace like cleanliness above all else. This is the result of trying to survive the plague that killed off most of the human and animal population many years ago. They also try keep out various other unfriendly groups of people who want access to their city. These groups have names such as Carnies who like to eat forbidden meat, Praisebees who worship Jesus and the Agros who have technological superior weapons who threaten to take over the city.
To protect themselves, the people in Cityplace have S.A.N.T.S who are the Cityquards for the city. Adara’s main goal is to become a S.A.N.T., which stands for The Special Army of the New Territories, but must be chosen by the people to join. Before she can officially join the SANTS, the city is invaded and fighting begins.
I give this book Four Stars because the story is very original and interesting. The plot is suspenseful with many different settings and groups of people. The characters are unique with distinctive personalities, different motives and lifestyles. The written and spoken dialogue is very unusual with strange language especially developed for the characters. This is very difficult to achieve in most stories, but handled well in this book. I look forward to reading the sequel to this series by this new Sci-Fi author.