A quiet tale focused on the rebuilding aspect of a post-apocalyptic reality, this novel was a memorable addition to the genre.
Plot: ★★★ 1/2
First off, I'm not usually a reader of post-apocalyptic fiction. I don't like novels focused on the end of times, death, destruction, and the lack of hope—I tend to like more escape in my fiction, and to me the plot tends to not outweigh the personal stress I feel while reading it!
The Lightest Object in the Universe isn't about destruction though. It's about hope, and new growth.
Carson is a former school principal and history teacher on the East Coast, witnessing the breakdown of normal as the electrical grid shuts down, the world collapses, and his neighborhood, students, and city fall into the grim reality of "after." The only thing he can think of is his lover, Beatrix, who lives in California. Is she safe? Is she alive? Carson decides to go to her, and that decision sparks a cross-country trek the old-fashioned way: on foot.
Beatrix is dealing with her own end of the world life in California, and she wonders about Carson—is he safe? Is he alive? Does her remember the promise he made to her that he would cross the country to be with her? Learning how to live with her neighbors and friends in the new version of the world, Beatrix discovers what it means to carry on.
This is a quiet tale. I have to admit, at times I wished it was a little faster in its pacing...but at the same time, that was kind of the point. In our current world of technology, immediacy, electricity, and the grid, time spent on the quiet moments is seen as something extremely slow and often unnecessary. But for Carson and Beatrix, time flows differently because there is no option to do it faster. It is what it is. Over the course of the novel, I found myself slowing down to match their speed, and once I did that I was able to enjoy the novel more.
Recommended for those who like the quiet, and are willing to spend some lingering time with this radically different post-apocalyptic tale.
Thank you to Algonquin Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.