What happens when resources become scarce and society starts to crumble? As the competition for resources pulls America's previously stable society apart, the "New Normal" is a Soft Apocalypse. This is how our world ends; with a whimper instead of a bang.
"It's so hard to believe," Colin said as we crossed the steaming, empty parking lot toward the bowling alley. "What?" "That we're poor. That we're homeless." "I know." "I mean, we have college degrees," he said. "I know," I said.
There was an ancient miniature golf course choked in weeds alongside the bowling alley. The astroturf had completely rotted away in places. The windmill had one spoke. We looked it over for a minute (both of us had once been avid mini golfers), then continued toward the door. "By the way," I added. "We're not homeless, we're nomads. Keep your labels straight."
New social structures and tribal connections spring up across America, as the previous social structures begin to dissolve. Soft Apocalypse follows the journey across the Southeast of a tribe of formerly middle-class Americans as they struggle to find a place for themselves and their children in a new, dangerous world that still carries the ghostly echoes of their previous lives.
©2011 Will McIntosh (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"In this moving debut from Hugo-winner McIntosh, the prosperous world of 2023 ends not with a bang but with a crackle, the sound of genetically engineered bamboo growing overnight and destroying roads and buildings.... McIntosh strongly delineates his characters and makes Jasper's struggles very affecting. Though it may be soft, this apocalypse has plenty of sharp edges." (Publishers Weekly)
"Bottom line: If Soft Apocalypse isn't nominated for a Hugo or Nebula Award, I will eat the entire book page by page." (Paul Goat Allen)
"[McIntosh] has written a first novel that's compelling, credible, and relentless, whose best and most disturbing moments will stay with the reader for a long time." (Locus)
Science writer in America's heartland
This story is sad, violent, realistic, sad, and sad. In a future where society collapses not because of zombies, or a terrible disease, or a war, but because of economic ruin -- there's not much to be cheery about. But I found "Soft Apocalypse" to be an intriguing take on the sci-fi dystopia. People do things to survive that they are not proud of. Yet they try to cling to the sense of self they had before the collapse, and they strive to find a "normal" life... Somewhere.
While it is a story of a "Soft Apocalypse", it is more about the characters and less about what has/is happening. It seems focused on Jasper getting dates and how unfair the world is. (The haves vs the have nots) I would have enjoyed it more if there was more about how they got to where they are and more of the "color" of what is happening in the larger world. If you enjoy books like "One Second After" or "Lucifer's Hammer" this is not for you. If you enjoyed "Life as we knew it" you will probably like this.
The focus of this story is MUCH more about the main character's dating life than an apocalypse. In fact it really is just a sort of chronicle of the main character's dating life. I found the main character to be hard to like, and hard to care about. Kind of a wishy washy guy who sort of drifts along bemoaning his love life, while making silly decisions and bouncing from person to person kind of pointlessly... The apocalypse is really just a backdrop for this dating stuff which is the main thrust of the story. It is not, however, a romance, or a love story, or even an exploration of relationships - just a sort of log and commentary on the trials and tribulations of dating...
It is odd - as though the writer was much more interested in exploring the ups and downs of dating than the supposed demise of the world. There is much more commentary about the kind of girl he likes, the kind of girl he doesn't like, etc, than there is about what is happening in the world and why or how it impacts anything. The apocalypse element could have been left out altogether, since it completely had little to no impact on the main story, which is all about this guy's experiences in dating. The dating stuff got to be relentless at times - on and on and on about which woman he will date and going to a dating service, and ex's he's had and... Ugg....
There is little explanation for why the economy is failing, or what is happening in the world or why, and some weird elements seem to be introduced to try to make is seem like an apocalypse. There are unexplained groups forming in society that seem to have no purpose and no explanation but to somehow make this an apocalypse, and viruses popping up for no apparent reason as we are given no explanation of the state of the world, or who would do this, or why, and it does nothing to move the story (which is just DATING) along.
It really got tedious and was a chore to finish this and I wonder why the author doesn't just write a straightforward story about some guy's dating life and all the commentary he clearly wants to expound on about dating for guys (I am sure there is an audience for that), without the premise of the world ending, since the apocalypse is really an afterthought in many ways it seems in this story. Perhaps it would not have been disappointing had I thought is was a character driven story about some ordinary guy going through all the ins and outs and ups and downs of dating, but "soft apocalypse" carries some obvious promises, so I felt this was very misleading... I had to listen to hours of this guy droning on about his feelings about his dating life when I thought this was a slow end of the world story, which it only was a little and only incidentally, it seems.
I know I can return it, but it is pain to do that. So though I hate giving bad reviews, and though it wasn't the worst story I have ever heard, I really felt there was a bait and switch going on here and I feel a mislead...
If you always have a book with you...
A different view on how society could deteriorate. An easy listen that's not really too far fetched. Sure this book had a few corny parts, but the girlfriend thing wasn't as bad as some reviews make it out to be. It's a decent non-violent (for the most part) apocalyptic story.
"There never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything you want to do..."
I think that listening to this book as the Presidential Election draws nearer really seems to make the storyline plausible... Following the daily news I felt the story actually was pertinent as a warning on the choices we make today...
I did enjoy the Main Character because he wasn't a "Superman" but seems average. I enjoyed the "believability" of his actions and consequences as they related to this story.
Erik Davies helped the story along by not over-doing the different voices... which can really detract from a great book if not done right.
"Not with a Bang...but with a whimper..."
Its not the Best Book, its not the Best Story...its not even the most plausible storyline. But it is a GOOD book, well written, with solid Characters and more than enough thought provocation on the subjects it touched upon that I still find myself thinking about this book almost daily. To me, that's money well spent.
This is a coming of age story, set in a possible future, one where none of us would like to visit. The author puts us inside the narrator and we see the world he sees. Since it is his world, he feels no need to fully explain it or try to tell how it came about. I think anyone who is aware of the problems we now have and what is coming slowly to us, will not need to have things explained. We see these things happening all around us.
The story is simple, but effective. And frightening. It comes to us, as all things do, one step at a time.
One thing that took me a while to get used to was the deliberate use of an unlikeable protagonist. It always felt like he should step up to the plate and be a better friend, a more authentic person, someone with values, but he just didn't have it in him.
I listened to this quite a while ago, though, and a lot of weird, vivid scenes are flooding back to me as I recall the bizarre hero's journey. So it obviously made an impression.
There was an instance of animal violence that went too far for me, to the point of sullying my overall enjoyment of the book. (And this was not even the grossest part of the story, when the protagonist gets mugged by some insurgents. That, I actually admired in its nastiness.)
When you have read as many post-apocalypse books as I have, you begin to look for books that do something different. Most apocalyptic events depicted are sudden. EMP, nuclear war, asteroid impact, zombie virus, pandemic that gets out of hand. In this book we get a "soft apocalypse." In other words, it is gradual. A combination of malnutrition, and related viruses, environmental degradation, economic collapse, rising unemployment, and Genetic engineerring gone wrong, cause the eventual apocalypse. Over a period of several years, a group of ordinary people learn to adapt and survive in a gradually declining world. I highly recommend this book to all of my fellow apocalypse fans out there.
The end of the world, according to this novel, is not a whimper, but a long series of whimpers punctuated with occasional hope and a final resigned leap. As the ordinary expectations of life slowly drain away into drawn-out misery, revolutionary geniuses construct a scenario that may not be much better. Highly recommended.
While the idea was great the execution was (Being kind here) moderate. While the book could have been awesome even as a Soft Apocalypse this book should be retitled bore me.
I spent several months going back and forth about getting this book. I love Apocalypse and post apocalyptic stories, this was one that I could have done without.
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