I thought this was a very original story, portraying a post-apocalyptic world in a fascinating new way. I enjoyed reading it and I’d recommend it to others.
But there were also a few things, mostly about the story structure and plot, that just didn’t make sense to me. So, I’m a bit conflicted.
However, there’s no denying it’s an intriguing world Mayne has created.
The story takes place in the US, twenty years after “monsters” spilled into the world through a rift between our world and another plane/dimension. People seek shelter in crowded towns along the the coast, and the rest of the country becomes the Waste – the depopulated space where monsters roam freely. The MC, 23-year old Danny, has recently joined the army to fight the monsters. But then he’s sent out to face the most deadly monster of them all, the Soul Eater.
I love post-apocalyptic books. I love to follow characters struggling to survive while also trying to keep their humanity and finding joy in the small things in life. And an MM story to boot? Pretty much my catnip.
And it started out awesomely. You’re thrown right into the action, when Danny is sent into the field, together with his platoon, to distract the Soul Eater in order to aid in his capture. He knows he’s walking into certain death, but has no choice but to obey. Only the Soul Eater doesn’t kill him.
I was completely enthralled by the events that followed, how the Soul Eater – Wyn – appears to be fascinated and almost protective of Danny. And how they, so very carefully, are trying to approach each other when they end up in the Wastes together.
The parts I enjoyed the most were the ones where Wyn and Danny had company. When they interacted with other characters. Human or monster. Wyn’s old friend Edin was the best. I loved him. I wish he’d been a bigger part of the story. But even when there were only bad guys stalking them, it was way more interesting than the walking-eating-talking-sleeping parts with only Danny and Wyn. To be honest, after a while I was actually pretty bored by all the alone-time those two had. So that lowered my enjoyment of the book somewhat.
Also, the story felt a bit aimless. Sure, Danny is young. But one would assume that growing up in a world where you have to fight for every scrap, would have made him resourceful, and have him at least try to come up with a plan to stay alive. Something to give Danny, and the story, a purpose. Instead, Danny just tags along with Wyn, relying on him to find him food, and not appearing to think ahead more than to his next meal. And that didn’t sit right with me.
It’s all about Danny and Wyn trekking in the Wastes, mysteriously finding edible food everywhere and motel rooms with still working showers where they could spend the night. In their own bubble and insulated from the rest of the world.
This lack of direction of the story, and as a consequence of that, the lack of a resolution in the end is my main objection to this read.
But I’m thinking that this unusual story composition is due to Mayne’s experience level. This is her debut novel. And as such, it is pretty effing impressive. When starting off as a writer with a book like this, I would expect her stories to be absolutely epic in a few years. And I will definitely keep checking out her books.
4 strong stars!