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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Swiftian Post-Apocalyptic Novel That Is Both Fun and Thoughtful



If Jonathan Swift were alive in the 21st century he might have written something very like Hello World 5000.  Like Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, this book deals with a journey through an unfamiliar landscape.   In terms of our current genre labels, the book is post-apocalyptic and dystopian.  As I said in a previous review, I don't enjoy dystopias. I usually avoid them because I expect them to be grimdark to the max.  Yet because author  Jeffrey Grant Hunt brought Swift's sensibility to his dystopia, I thought it was actually a fun read.  That's why I'm telling my readers about this book after reviewing it for The Bookplex.

                                    

                                      
 Royal, the main viewpoint character, pretends to ignorance while weaving sly satiric commentary into his account.  I enjoyed his voice though he can’t be considered a trustworthy narrator.   For example, his history of the internet mixes fact with whimsy.

Readers shouldn’t expect realism from this novel, or a story line that would make sense if taken literally.  The plot and description are fanciful. In accordance with Royal’s rule book, The Decon Manual For Homeless Soldiers, “We make it up as we go along.”  Yet when it seems like there can be no serious purpose in writing the book, readers are jarred out of complacency by a mordant jab at our assumptions.

Hunt has one of the characters say “my crimes against the reader are too numerous to mention”, but frequent errors in the text isn’t one of them.  I only found one which was of the sort that wouldn’t be found by a spellcheck program. 

The title and cover imply that everything that is taking place is part of the videogame Hello World 5000 that is briefly mentioned in the book.  Is it really?   Perhaps Hunt’s main point is that trying to establish what is real isn’t an especially worthwhile activity.   If you go along for the ride you might discover that there are other things that are more important.  

                                   

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