3 out of 4 stars
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DTOM: Series of the Tytler Cycle: Zero Light Pollution is a historical fiction novel written by Nathan Dunlap. In the book, a powerful solar flare has hit the earth, wiping out all electronics, technology, most vehicles, and all appliances. This starts a quick descent into anarchy, mayhem, and turmoil. While the catastrophic event has clearly impacted the entire world, the book mainly focuses on the happenings in the United States and Afghanistan. We meet many different characters who are dealing with the disaster in various ways. While some turn to crime and become obsessed with power, there are a few that emerge as true leaders and heroes. With almost everyone and everything around him in total chaos, Hammie is one of the people who is trying to do right by his community in Colorado and lead by example. However, with no one coming to their rescue, can Hammie really keep his community together in the face of impossible odds? Is this truly the collapse of society? What types of monstrous atrocities will be committed? Do any laws still exist? Can people’s humanity still survive when faced with unimaginable horrors? Find out in this absorbing and thrilling tale.
I enjoyed the premise of this book. Disaster tales and stories about dystopian societies have always interested me. So, I was excited to delve into this novel. The plot, especially in the first few chapters, was very engrossing and engaging. It was fascinating to see how all the characters would deal with the catastrophe. Everyone had their own different way of facing the ordeal. I also appreciated the fact that the solar flare disaster is something that could technically happen and is a realistic scenario. As the author said, a major hit did happen in the 1860s. Obviously, there was almost no technology back then. There have been other small solar flares, but it’s frightening to consider that it is a possibility that a powerful solar flare could hit Earth and send us all into darkness. Almost all of the locations that the author mentioned in the novel were real places, which further added to the realism of the book.
I likewise liked Hammie as a character. He was extremely brave and did his best to help many people in his community. He didn’t get drunk with power and always tried to act in a very humane way. He was one of the people who had a strong character arc, and we see how he turned from a newcomer to a respected leader of his community.
Unfortunately, not everything in the book worked. I took issue with the way that most of the female characters were depicted in the book. There were obviously a few exceptions, but the vast majority of the women were either sex objects or damsels in distress. Overall, three female characters were raped. Two of them were raped brutally and repeatedly. I understand that the book was going for realism and was trying to show the horror that these people experienced, but it just became too much. There was no need to beat the readers over the head so many times to prove a point. It became excessive and unnecessary after a while. Also, a lot of the female characters stood around and waited for the men to make the decisions and save them. They couldn’t really think for themselves.
The book obviously showed numerous horrific crimes committed in a world that became extremely chaotic. However, newborn babies dying of hunger, children being killed as part of a crazy cult sacrifice, as well as characters cannibalizing each other, did not all need to be part of the book. The impact was actually lost by mixing all those horrible occurrences together because they seemed to just be there for shock value.
I’m rating the book 3 out of 4 stars. I found the premise and the writing fascinating and realistic. I enjoyed Hammie as a character and felt like he was one of the very few bright spots in a very dark world. I’m taking a star away for the very uneven depiction of several female characters. The numerous rape scenes were morbid and unnecessary. There were also some scenes involving children that were meant to be deliberately shocking and appalling. It should be noted that this novel is the first book of a planned four-book series. So, readers shouldn’t expect many things to be resolved. I would recommend this book to adult readers who enjoy stories about dystopian societies and catastrophes. People who don’t like depictions of violence and brutality should stay away from this book.
DTOM: Series of the Tytler Cycle
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