Set in a future dystopian world, the once UK civilization has risen once again. The government maintains a tight control on its citizens, many lines of study are forbidden, weapons are not allowed in civilian hands, and a class system is firmly in place. Teen Robinson is from a prominent family and is usually dodging trouble. Along with his best friend, Slink, he can be found occasionally scaling forbidden buildings by moonlight. Rebellion is stirring beneath the surface and Robinson is soon caught up in it. He is forced to flee the only life he has ever known, crash landing on unknown shores in a degraded land populated by mutated monsters.
Let’s start with my one little quibble: This story stands well on its own and it was not necessary for the author to draw some parallels with the classic Robinson Crusoe by Defoe. OK, now that that is out of the way, let me gush. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish. The author shows us the messed up side of Crusoe’s society in many small ways that cumulatively lead up to the big punch-in-the-face reality that Crusoe has to live through. There’s betrayal and pity, friendship and familial bonds, hope and luck.
Then he crashes onto what was once the USA. There, all signs of civilization have long since degraded. The buildings are in ruins, food is scarce, & winter is coming on. To add to his quickly shortening odds of survival, there are the Renders (which are mutated monsters that might have once been humans a few generations back). The Renders can be quite large (think bull-sized) and sometimes go on all fours. They are always hungry and not above eating a human or two.
Crusoe must learn to survive. He has a few rations from his crashed ship to get him started but he has to find reliable shelter, clean water (or a safe place to boil it), and food. Oddly enough, it is the loneliness that starts to undo him. Lucky for him, he finds a series of companions in this diseased land. Without giving away plot points, these various companions teach him different things, both about himself and about survival. My favorite was Friday because she was so very practical and could take the hard road.
Added to all this is a mystery surrounding Crusoe’s mother, who supposedly died in a flyer accident a few years back. Crusoe has always had questions about that day and his sudden flight and subsequent findings add to his questions. I really liked how this turned out. On the other side of the coin, there are these savages that come in by boat every full moon with captives that they sacrifice. Absolutely chilling! These scenes were written very well and were disturbing. I really felt like I was in Crusoe’s shoes, watching from a somewhat safe distance, as these sacrifices were made.
Crusoe’s story arc was very interesting to watch progress. He always had some smarts, if not common sense. As circumstances, teachers, and companions beat their lessons into him, he changes under the harsh weight. He goes from a clever, well-bred young man who is pasty white and weak in muscle, to a survivor made of determination and sinew. Riding around in his head, we can clearly see why he makes certain hard choices and what drives him to continue on. As a note, there were more than one ethnicity in this book, an aspect I appreciated. The ending completes the story arc for this book and leaves it set up for Book 2, which I eagerly await coming out in audiobook.
The Narration: Malk Williams was a great choice for young Robinson Crusoe. He was able to keep a clear voice for Crusoe even as he aged both physically and mentally. He had quite believable female voices and a range of voices for the rest of the men. There are a few sections where another language is spoken that doesn’t quite match any of our modern languages and Williams did a great job of making these sound fluid and natural. I especially liked his voice for Friday.
This review was originally published on Dab of Darkness
You can also see the review at Audiobook Reviewer.
Thanks, Susan, for the outstanding review!