The Prelapsarians by John Gaiserich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am truly honored to have read this book. I mean, honestly, I knew enough to expect a dark tale of post super-volcano Yellowstone set in the Caucasus region, full of the horrors of cynical survival and very Russian sentimentality, but I hadn't expected this novel to burrow so DEEP under my skin and have me weeping with hope and horror at the same time.
It only barely touches the SF realm, and the exposition at the very beginning of the novel says it all. It's a set piece, a simple, if horrible setting, that does very little to explain just how impressive and deep my love for these characters really go.
Sure it's a mercenary group surviving in the chaos of the region, many years after the ash choked and continues to poison the world. A magical drug that breaks down the ash in your lungs becomes the most valuable substance in the world. But this is NOT what this novel is about.
The novel is about having lost everything and learning to hope again. It's about love amidst battle scars, regaining that lost idealism before the Great Fall, of knowing that we were always lost, but that we still clung to hope in all the myriad ways we were always meant to, be it sex, violence, or all the flavors of religion.
And it's all here. Every character is as real as can be. I loved and hated them all. They were flawed and beautiful. All of them were tragic and the epitome of everything that was good and lost, even while they were all lost and loyal and heartbreakingly true to life.
The prose is workmanlike, but interposed like a knife in the back were passages, either read from journals, spoken from the hearts behind dolorous lips, or wrenched from the agony of life, were some of the most beautiful passages of pure poetry, reminding us that life is not all grim and dark even when we are taught the hard way that living is pure hell.
There is a lot of religion and religious thought, but it's all out in the open, in the hearts and minds of the players, and I can't fault them for it. Their lives are hard and the search for meaning is probably the one thing that kept their hearts beating at all after so much time.
Is this a truly great work?
Yes. I think it might actually be.
Was it hard to get through?
A bit, but not in the way you might think. It was good reading. It was actually hard on my heart.
This is one absolutely gorgeous piece of Art. Don't miss out on this. It might be rather unknown, as of yet, but it absolutely shouldn't be.
I completely recommend this for everyone who believes in a gut-wrenching tale of hope and despair among the survivors.
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