Monday, July 4, 2011
Sci-fi: A Chemical Fire by Brian Martinez
Date: Jul. 2010
Acquired: won from The Post Apoc
Read: for my own enjoyment
Reading time: one day
From GoodReads: In just one night, the world is taken by fire. The story unfolds through the eyes of John Cotard, a science teacher who rapidly drugs his life away after a fateful car accident turns him onto prescription painkillers. He allows first his job then his marriage to crumble, doing nothing to stop it, lost in a haze of chemicals. When a mysterious fire sweeps through the land, wiping out human-kind and leaving behind zombie-like burn victims, he carries on by breaking into houses to steal drugs. For John, the end of the world actually seems to make sense- it's the next logical step in his self-destruction. One-by-one he meets the few remaining survivors, including a woman starving herself thin, a combat-obsessed survivalist, and a dangerous face from the past. As the group travels across the country to seek safety they face not only the dangers of the dead world around them but of each other, discovering the strange connections they share along the way. The debut novel from Brian Martinez, A Chemical Fire is a minimalist, noir vision of the apocalypse.
My review: I was hoping this novel would be really good, and it was. The story is fast-paced and the plot is unique, the perfect combination for an interesting read. The characters were hard for me to identify with (I am a teenager, not a junkie, drug dealer, anorexic/bulimic, or survivalist), but the purpose of having four low characters comes clear at the end and makes putting up with them well worth it. By about the middle of the book, I was getting tired of the continual journey through post-apocalyptic America and was ready for the author to either get to the point or wrap it up, but the point was soon reached and was quite surprising. Really, you're not going to see the ending coming. And when the only possible complaint I can find with a novel is that the text has a few punctuation errors, you know it's going down as one of my favorite reads for this year.
Maturity Factor: Profanity.