THE BOOK OF KOLI by M. R. Carey
I am impressed no end by the world-building in this novel. I also loved the second in the series THE TRIALS OF KOLI, though I’m waiting for the third volume to be distributed. It’s rare that I’m sufficiently enthused about the journey of one character to pine for Book 3.
First, let me say that Mr. Carey’s art obliterates many of the old chestnuts of “good” fiction writing:
He begins with what can only be called a 7-chapter information dump. Luckily, the information is fascinating. He also tends to break up tense moments, even fighting, with periods of reflection and emotion. He routinely caps narrative peaks and valleys by bald announcements of change or disaster to come.
The world-building centers on the loves, aspirations, trials, and tribulations of the young point-of-view narrator Koli Woodsmith who lives in a daunting post-apocalyptic future. In his village Mythen Rood (in Ingland, by the Calder River) the Ramparts call the shots. Ramparts, at this point all from a single family, can wake and deploy old-tech weaponry from the lost world against outside threats. It is Koli’s hope that he too will be inducted into the Ramparts and become a somebody. Disappointed, he steals a piece of tech that finally wakes for him: and it’s a Media Player with history.
This novel covers the first part of Koli’s arduous journey from Mythen Rood to maturity.
Terrors in the world abound. In the forest, his family’s task is “catching” and killing the murderous trees for fences and building projects. The forest also teems with vicious mutant predators and harbors cannibals. The villagers fall victim to surprise attacks by leftover war drones programmed to kill, while their own misbehaviors may result in expulsion from the safety of the community and its comforts. Worse, communities have been disappearing due to shrinking birthrates, and so may all of them unless a moody doctor armed with an amazing piece of military tech can turn the tide of genetic mayhem.