Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Review: One By Conrad Williams

One By Conrad Williams

Paperback, 363 pages

Published June 1st 2009 by Virgin Books (first published April 2nd 2009) ISBN13: 9780753518106

British Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2010)

My favorite sub-genre of horror novel is Post-apocalypse. I love the classics like Alas Babylon and On the beach as well as more modern classics like Swan Song, The Road and the Stand. I had this one on the shelf for a long time and I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it. I know this will sound like hyperbole but One is much darker than any of those other novels even McCarthy’s the Road. Much like my experience reading Swan Song my heart hurt for the character’s experiencing the events of the novel. It doesn’t have the epic scope of Swan Song but in all the good ways this was a British Swan Song. That folks is my second favorite novel of all time so keep that in mind.

I went into this novel cold. I didn’t read much about the plot and for that I was glad I didn’t. If you trust me and you are a fan of post apocalypse novels then stop right here and order the book.

So in many ways ONE is a masterpiece of the subgenre. Ironically considering the title it is like two books starting off like a straight forward end of the world novel and then in the second half becoming an excellent supernatural horror novel that is really the novel I wanted Simon Clark’s Blood Crazy to be.

Jane, who is a father and deep sea diver is deep off the coast of Britian when the majority of the human race is cooked by a massive solar flame. The first half of the novel is a painful hike across the ash cover remains of a Scotland and England burnt to a crisp. Jane needs to make it back to London in an attempt to find his son, who in his heart he admits is likely dead.

Like the McCarthy’s The Road this novel explores the nature of the relationship between Father and son. ONE however does this through a series of beautifully written letters/journals Jane keeps for his son as he survives. In the second half of the novel Williams takes the story 5 years into the future. A disease that no one can understand is carried in the layer of ash that has coated the earth. It could be argued that the infected feral cannibal humans running around London know as Skinners in the novel are zombies. Not exactly and that sells Conrad Williams skill short. I never felt like I was reading a zombie novel, but something similar and more original.

This is my first novel by Conrad Williams but I am so impressed I plan to read everything as soon as I can get my hands on them. Best novel I have read all year and probably my second favorite reading experience behind Cody Goodfellow’s Repo Shark.

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