3 out of 4 stars
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Strange Stories II: The Empty Earth is a collection of short stories written by Roger Mannon and published in July 2020. At right under 120 Kindle edition pages in total, the collection was the perfect length for diving in and digesting all three in one sitting. With all three having a similar theme involving an apocalyptic time in the near future or intense feelings of loneliness, they read well together with a centralized view.
The first story in the three-part collection, titled Alone was my favorite. Although different from the typical apocalyptic type stories involving zombified versions of the human race, Alone focuses more on the lonely feeling that arrives once nearly the entire human population dies off due to an ancient virus that is pulled from the arctic. The second in the set, A Ghost Story, features a man who has passed from this land of the living and is still roaming the streets with the other spirits of the dead while trying to help them to move on to their new existence. The final part in the set is called Tipping Point, and the title is true to the theme in the story. A man who has grown into adulthood from learning the ways of preparing for the end of a functioning society from his father recounts his experiences of living life totally alone.
The ever-present theme within all three stories is loneliness and is thoughtfully presented in this collection of short stories. While all are considered to be short stories due to their length, they are so well-written and expressed in such a way that they certainly have the power to leave readers with feelings evident in the present theme. All three are written from the first-person perspective, which I felt caused them to have an authentic feel much more so than others I have read in the genre. My favorite thing about the collection is how the author details how the stories came to be in his mind in the acknowledgements. All three could certainly be expanded out to be full novels, especially with how well the author was able to capture and present the details in each.
Although extraordinarily well-written, I did come across a few minor grammatical errors while reading, though they could easily be expelled with a careful round of editing. Some of these instances included words being input twice (standing standing) , and spelling typos (out/our, it/is). While I don't see these errors capable of taking away from the story, I did feel it was necessary to acknowledge their presence.
Reading Strange Stories II: The Empty Earth was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. There were so many emotions pulled from me as a reader that I could feel myself relating to the torment felt by the characters entirely. I'm pleased to rate Strange Stories II: The Empty Earth 3 out of 4 stars. This was a difficult one to give a rating on, as I battled with myself on whether 3 or 4 stars would be best suited. Had it not been for the minor errors found along the way, this one would have easily ranked among the highest that I have had the opportunity to review. I would happily recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys apocalyptic novels with a centralized theme of loneliness and self-reliance. I can say without a doubt that these stories will stick with me, which I imagine to be the full intention of the author.
Strange Stories II
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