Sunday, August 19, 2012

Earth Abides Book Review

This  book is one of the many that I have in my to-read pile strictly for Apocalypse Hub and while I’ve finished it over a month ago, I’m just now getting around to write a quick and dirty book review on it. 

This was supposed to be one of the inspirations for Stephen King’s The Stand. How can one resist, right?

The story is told from the POV of Isherwood (Ish) Williams. It begins with him suffering the effects of a rattlesnake bite and wakes up to a world whose population has been pretty much wiped out by a plague. 

It’s a beautifully written epic tale that spans many generations after year zero. 

The thing about Ish was that he didn’t mourn humanity in general. He almost seemed to enjoy being alone in the early years after the pandemic (he does meet people during his travels). I think that the way he coped with the situation is how most people would have probably handled it.   

With no one to sustain agriculture, industries, the law, and government – it was back to square one for those who made it. I especially enjoyed the moments where he realized the importance of self-sufficiency and rebuilding. Opening tin cans of food would only last him and the others so long until it either ran out or became unsafe for consumption. With topics such as the structure of family, community, and culture covered, this book could have easily been part of a trilogy. 

Having read reviews of this book, I was aware that some readers were distracted about the antiquated references (it was written in 1949). In my case, however, I do believe that it added to its authenticity. It painted a very genuine and vivid picture of that era which enhanced the reading experience despite the racist and sexist overtones. There are parts that were dull and tedious in its description of day to day life but I had to remind myself that the story is being told from the eyes of a man who was more of an observer than a doer and one who lived through generations after the collapse of civilization as he/they knew it. It’s less of a sprint but a marathon, paced to see you through to the end. 

This is one of those books that only gets better after you’ve reread it and I’m actually surprised that it hasn’t been made into a feature film yet. I don’t think the Hollywood machine is up for such a challenge. 

Overall, a fascinating and engaging read. Highly recommended. 4 out of 5 stars. 

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