Friday, 1 June 2012

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky - Book Review

Today I have a guest book review for your from my good friend Ross Phillips. He has done a number of reviews for my blog now, and has slightly different tastes in books so can give you another perspective from me gushing about hot vampires! I do intended to get round to reading all these little gems and give my perspective too, so look out for my comments at a later date!

Without further ado I will hand you over to Ross:

Metro 2033 by Dmity Glukhovsky

"The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind. But the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory, the stuff of myth and legend. More than 20 years have passed since the last plane took off from the earth. Rusted railways lead into emptiness. The ether is void and the airwaves echo to a soulless howling where previously the frequencies were full of news from Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires. Man has handed over stewardship of the earth to new life-forms. Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. Man's time is over. A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on earth. They live in the Moscow Metro - the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. It is humanity's last refuge. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters - or the simple need to repulse an enemy incursion. It is a world without a tomorrow, with no room for dreams, plans, hopes. Feelings have given way to instinct - the most important of which is survival. Survival at any price. VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line. It was one of the Metro's best stations and still remains secure. But now a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro, to the legendary Polis, to alert everyone to the awful danger and to get help. He holds the future of his native station in his hands, the whole Metro - and maybe the whole of humanity. "

This book is a bit of a departure for me as I usually stay away from the whole post-apocalyptic genre as in my experience books in such a setting tend to be either gritty depressing trudges through a ruined version of whatever part of the world the author happens to know best, or wholey unrealistic frag-fests which are all action and take no account of pratical difficulty or plot.

So when a friend bought me Metro 2033 as a present purely on the fact it was set in Russia (and I'm a well know Russophile) I was skeptical, having put it off for months on end I finally decided to get on with it and to my utter shock I actually quite enjoyed it.

The world Dmitry has created within the Moscow subway system (of which there is a VERY handy map inside the cover) is completly engaging, with threats of all variety around every corner from zealot political cults to mutants to the downright paranormal let alone the radiation and chemical threats.

There is a very real sense of the well characterised Artyom being a very small, delicate cog in a very big, broken machine. Action is well paced and the tension in some scenes is almost palpable. Supporting characters are very human indeed with almost the whole book highlighting just how fragile humans are both physically and mentally and that the survival of humanity is by no means a safe bet.

If I've got any real issues with this book it comes mostly from that fact its Russian. Cyrillic languages are notoriously hard to translate effectively and while on the whole its perfectly readable there are odd phrases and sentences that seem a bit 'odd' (for want of a better word), a bit like when you run something through Google translater, what might be a comon enough phrase in Russian doesn't come out right when directly translated to English.

Another small niggle is that while the districs and subway stations of Moscow may be familiar to the people who have been/lived there it has the tendancy to get slightly confusing for those of us with no knowledge of Moscow.

So all things considered I think you could sum this book up by saying that it's a good book thats tad spoiled by its localisation.

7.8/10 (shall we call it an 8!)

Irriatingly there is a sequal (Metro 2034) but so far i cant find any copies in English. German, Spanish and French yes but apparantly a real niche Language like English doesn't get a translation . . . . understandable, its not like English is the 3rd most Spoken langauge in the world or anything . . .

Thanks for reading,

Love Ross & Rie x

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