Review – Clayton Smith’s Apocalypticon
With so many post apocalypse novels on the market it is hard to find something a bit different but Clayton Smith mixes humour and terror in his attempt to reinvigorate the genre and to be fair does a good job.
Ben and Patrick, from St Louis, are survivors living in Chicago at the time of The Flying Monkeys. The monkeys in question were missiles with monkey faces painted on them that left the world covered in a chemical dust that killed people from the inside out. Patrick lost his wife and daughter in the attack and the bones of the dead serve as a constant reminder of a life now so full of sadness. His friend Ben, whilst single at the time, has a paranoia level turned all the way to eleven. The book starts with this paranoid man and his secret knock, possibly the longest knock in history.
Three hard knocks, two soft knocks, one long knock, three short knocks, two and a half quarter rapid-fire knocks, one flat palm slap, four knuckle taps, another palm slap, seven knuckle taps, two long knocks, seven left hand-right hand alternating slap-pounds, three short knocks, one knuckle tap, two palm slaps, three hard knocks, two soft knocks, four hard knocks, one rippling knuckle tap, two palm slaps.
Ben and Patrick decide to visit Disney World and pack up their food and weapons. One train still runs and they get on heading South. The train is run by a slightly psychotic conductor and his private security force, red caps and a nod to New York’s Guardian Angels of the 1980’s, and they keep it running as on time as they can considering the damage to the transport infrastructure. Ben and Patrick meet many characters on their journey and hear many conspiracy theories about how folk have survived.
This isn’t just an apocalypse tale. This is a road movie/buddy journey on a written page. The narrative is quirky and entertaining and the pacing is perfect. The secondary characters are all well fleshed and really add to the story, the Post Alignment Brotherhood especially. The humour is well placed and dry which stops the book descending into farce and keeps a good balance between light and dark.
**** 4 STARS!