Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Raft

The Raft by Fred Strydom
Talos: 5/3/16
eBook review copy; 432 pages
ISBN-13: 9781940456607

The Raft by Fred Strydom is a highly recommended clever postapocalyptic novel.

"The day every person on earth lost his and her memory was not a day at all. It couldn’t be slotted in a schedule or added to a calendar. In people’s minds, there was no actual event - no earthquake, tsunami, or act of terror - and thus whatever had happened could be followed by no period of shock or mourning. There could be no catharsis. Everyone was simply reset to zero. This moment of collective amnesia could not be understood within any context because it was the context itself that had been taken away. There was nothing anyone could do to repair themselves because they didn't know what was broken." (location 1348)

On Day Zero civilization collapsed because no one had any memories of relationships, how everything worked. From the confusion and aimlessness left behind a new movement arose, the Renascence. The Renascence collected people and sent them to distant, random collectives/communes. Families were separated because the concept had been lost. There is a mysterious group in charge of the communes who monitors the individuals collected there, and their dreams.

Kayle Jenner is in a commune located on a random beach. The trouble is Kayle remembers his son, Andy. Andy appears in his dreams and Kayle's one goal is to find Andy. But how does one do that when he has no clue as to where Andy has been sent and how to find him in this world without a set frame of reference, where little is understood or remembered. All Kayle knows is that he must escape and find Andy.

The characters are well developed - multifaceted and complicated. Due to the nature of Day Zero, the recollection and memories shared by characters may be dreams or real. Characters tell stories/dreams to each other that may have meaning. You can't tell and won't know until later... maybe. It's not a puzzle to be pieced together. It is many puzzles all mixed together without context that must be sorted to come to some semblance of an answer. This is one of those novels that you have to stick with, through everything, even if you feel confused or have many more questions than answers. The ending will be worth staying the course.

Strydom does an excellent job presenting his very complex, carefully plotted debut novel. The writing is incredible - descriptive and thoughtful. I like the advice one reader gave, to be patient while reading The Raft. There is action, but much of it is more cerebral. The ending will have you shocked and then very thoughtful. Some readers might follow my thoughts and say "But, wait, didn't... and what about..."

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Talos for review purposes.

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