This is emphatically not a review, because right now I’m less than halfway through this book, and I’m not going to actually type the title anywhere in this post or put it in the tags because I don’t particularly want this post to show up when people search for the book. A word of praise first: I started this last night in bed, at around 9:45 or so, and as of right now, just before 8 PM the next day on a day when I had to go to work, I’m 165 pages into it. I got home from work, went and got the book, and started reading. On a page-by-page and sentence-by-sentence level, this book that there’s a picture of on the right is a damn good read.
But here’s the thing: the book is set in the 2300s, roughly, far enough in The Future that there’s crazy technology: the caving suit the main character is wearing required elective surgery that rerouted her digestive system into the suit so that she could basically live in a closed ecosystem, just for example. There are two characters, the person in the Scary Cave and her handler, a disembodied voice Somewhere Out There. A whole lot of people who previously tried to explore this cave have died quite nastily. The book does paranoia and claustrophobia and Alone In The Dark very well, and as mysteries are unraveled as we go along it’s adding additional layers of palpable dread and creepy. In short, it does what it’s doing quite well.
And I turned to my wife on page six last night and said “This book had better give me a good reason at some point why there is a human being in a suit exploring this cave and not a drone,” and … well, nope. Now, there’s lots of book left, but in 2019 we can explore caves with drones. Especially the really dangerous and people-killy ones. I’m pretty certain that no matter what has happened to human civilization in the time between now and the events of this book– and it’s a very tight-focused book, so other than some hints about extrasolar colonization (the book does not take place on Earth) we really don’t have much of an idea of what regular human day-to-day life is like, but I am pretty sure we still have drones and robots. Probably even better ones than we have now! Why the hell would you risk even one human life, and way more than one person has died in this cave, to explore caves when you have robots you can send?
Ignore that detail, and this is a really compelling book. I’m gonna be insanely busy the next couple of days but this is gonna get read fast. There’s still lots of book left where my opinion might change, but the first 40% is good shit. Except for that one thing, and if you’re the type of person that That One Thing is gonna annoy, you probably shouldn’t even pick this up. Because, again: ignore that detail, and this is a really compelling book. With that detail, there’s no book at all, because the only reasonable way to explore this cave literally eliminates every single aspect of the plot and backstory as it’s been explained to us so far.
So, yeah, maybe don’t read this if that’s gonna be a problem.
The school year is officially one week old, and tomorrow is going to be a ten-hour day, and I haven’t worked a five-day week of any kind in a while and the first week of school is always hell and the first seven days are also hell and ten-hour days are hell and 140-degree days are hell and I’m so tired that I have crossed through tired and emerged on the other side, which is still tired but with more superlatives. It is deeply unlikely that there will be a post tomorrow, and Friday is my son’s birthday, and again I am very very sleepy, so do not panic if a few days elapse where you do not hear from me.
Which, in accordance with prophecy, means I will post every day, of course.