I can’t say this book gave me as much to think about as his other book, Love Minus Eighty. But it’s an interesting near-future, post-apocalypse story for those who like the genre.
Faller begins with a fascinating premise. A whole town of people “wake up” all at the same time, and none of them have any memories. They retain basic skills and some vocabulary, but can’t say who they are or what’s happened in their lives. (An interesting take on brain science, because these things are located in different parts of the brain.) Their memory is fine from the time they woke up, so their memories aren’t constantly being erased, they just have no knowledge of their lives prior to that day.
The stranger thing is they are located on a small chunk of earth, but the earth has an edge to it, like they are on a small island floating in the sky. And there’s no power, or at least no one knows how to turn it on. Simple machines are all that work. And there’s no way to produce food.
Our main character, who will decide to call himself Faller, wakes up with three things in his pocket. A photo of him with his arms around a woman who might be his wife, a toy soldier with a parachute, and a map with some circles, drawn in blood (his own, based on the cut he finds on his hand). Faller immediately tries to figure out what these things mean. But those around him are panicking and the situation quickly becomes violent, as people realize no one knows what to do and there’s not enough food to go around.
I’ve told you a lot about the story, but this is really just the beginning. Faller gradually learns what happened and why. McIntosh also takes us back in time with a parallel narrative.
This is a really fun read with lots of interesting settings, action, and scientific concepts. I’ll admit that the quantum physics in this book lost me at times. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book, but I’d be interested to hear from someone who knows about quantum physics whether the science in this book makes any sense.
Also, there are so many characters that most of them are not very well-developed, but this isn’t a character-focused book. I found it interesting but a little problematic that Faller is the only person who’s really trying to figure out what’s happened; everybody else is just trying to get by. McIntosh raises interesting psychological issues in the isolated communities that Faller encounters, although there isn’t time to explore them in-depth.
I’ve only read one other book by Will McIntosh, which I loved, so I can’t say how Faller compares to his others, but I definitely enjoyed it and look forward to reading more.
Note: I received a complimentary advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and Tor Books. The book published October 25, 2016.