17 August 2010

Book review: Total Oblivion, more or less

Total Oblivion, More or Less, Alan DeNiro. 1st ed, 2010.

I picked this up at ReaderCon, while I was looking for Ellen Kushner's chapbook "The Man with the Knives." Alan was working at the Small Beer table, so we chatted briefly, and he signed my copy. He's a nice chap.

The story begins with a teenaged girl in Minnesota whose world changes completely overnight. Technology stops working, and armed barbarians (Scythians, for example) invade. She and her family travel down the Mississippi in search of a new life (or at least a safe place to live), and they encounter villains and ad execs and a strange plague that involves wasps.

The story is billed as humorous, though it's a very dark sort of humor in most of it. It keeps the story from being overwhelmingly bleak, through the sheer absurdity of things Macy and her family encounter.

I liked the way DeNiro told the story: it's mostly in first person (Macy's POV), but there are short mini-chapters between the regular chapters, which are things like pamphlets, news bulletins, and background info told in third person. To fill the reader in on things Macy has no reason to know and give hints of what's coming up.

I enjoyed the book. If you like the idea of an absurdist apocalypse, this book is for you.

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