3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
The Turn by Matthew Tysz is a novel that straddles the line between a post-apocalyptic story and a horror/dark fantasy. It takes place in a world after the occurrence of an (initially) unspecified apocalyptic occurrence referred to as The Turn. Throughout the book, the reader is batted back and forth between the perspectives of several different characters as they navigate this unforgiving post-apocalyptic world. These different story-lines are all separate at first but, as the novel progresses, become more and more intertwined.
Using the multiple perspectives, Tysz paints a picture of humanity’s fall after The Turn. Humanity has gathered itself into pockets of societies whose moral codes vary enormously. Some communities have built themselves up on the basis of honest, hard work. Others, however, have descended quickly into the horrors of slavery and human trafficking. This wide swath of existence leaves room for a multitude of colourful characters throughout the novel, including but not limited to, the scholarly trained assassin, the rogue cowboy slave trader, the lethal womaniser, the loyal but vulnerable businessman/mayor, and others. Not only does this tale paint a picture of humanity and society, but also the constant struggle to find out more on what caused The Turn in the first place.
There was a lot to like about this book, especially for those of us that have a particular soft spot for post-apocalyptic fiction. I enjoyed how the author was able to capture the descent of humanity into pockets of a unique civilisations. The limited contact with other communities is an excellent technique whereby you can justify such a wide swath of collective morals. I also love how Tysz is able to capture the idea of changed identity in a post-apocalyptic world. You will never be the same person as you were before an event like The Turn, but Tysz’s characters dance that line beautifully. For example, a video game playing academic continues wearing a graduation cap in the new world, despite the fact that he is a professionally trained assassin. What I liked best about this book is that it doesn’t force the reader into an explanation on what The Turn actually is. It really isn’t until well into the second half of the book that the events surrounding the apocalypse itself are discussed in detail. I think that this allows the reader to focus on the characters and events in the present day and not necessarily on the defining events of the book’s past.
There were, however, a couple things that affected my enjoyment of this book. First, it took me a while to get both the characters and the timelines straight. As many of the characters didn’t have specific names, but rather pseudonyms (e.g. The Stranger), it wasn’t clear if we were talking about a character that would endure later in the book or just a general description. To begin with, the intermingling of perspectives and timelines confused me and prevented me from committing myself fully to the book. Second, and what I liked the least, was that it wasn’t 100% clear throughout the book what the overarching story was supposed to be. There were several story-lines that merged, a couple of main focuses, but in the end, I can really say what the main conflict and resolution of this novel really was. To be clear, each of the different aspects was interesting and worthwhile, but I didn’t get that satisfying feeling of global conflict resolution at the end of this one.
As I really did enjoy reading about Tysz’s prospective post-apocalyptic world, I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. The book's characters were dynamic and fun, the individual plots were interesting to read, and the comments towards a primarily Hobbesian humanity is exciting. Based on a slight lack of direction and the confusion I had in the first half of the book, I opted to take off one star. This book is definitely recommended to those who jump on every post-apocalyptic novel or those that like a good tale about the dark side of humanity. If you don’t like seeing the horrors of human nature or if post-apocalyptic survival stories don’t get you going, this one won’t be for you. Open up the pages of The Turn if you dare and glimpse into the darkest depths of humanity.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like Scerakor's review? Post a comment saying so!