124. Far North by Marcel Theroux

Far North by Marcel Theroux

Pages: 314
Ages: 18+
Finished: Jul. 11 2009
First Published: Jun. 15 '09
Genre: post apocalyptic fiction
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

Every day I buckle on my guns and go out to patrol this dingy city.

Reason for Reading: As soon as I saw the words dystopian and post apocalyptic associated with the plot I was there. Those are favourite genres of mine. I received a review copy from Harper Collins Canada.

Comments: Makepeace lives a solitary life in the Russian/Asian North, the only survivor in a once thriving town of American settlers. This is a world sparsely populated, where occasional persons pass by on the road but only rarely these days. Groups have settled in different areas and Makepeace begins to see what the world is really like after a plane flies by overhead and a decision is made to find the fabled land where civilization is still running, where they still have planes. Makepeace sees native tribes who are friendly and living off the land proudly, native tribes who are brutal and take what they want leaving pillage and bodies behind, a society based on strict religious rule and more but ultimately Makepeace is captured by a slave camp where work is gruelling but at least food is readily and freely given.

I really enjoyed this book. Makepeace is a very interesting character and while secondary characters come and go Makepeace is the one that is fully fleshed out and whose past is slowly revealed throughout the book. The atmosphere is dismal and bleak, as is the writing. I found it a slow read just as the trudging through snow and back breaking work would slow one down, it also slowed down my reading.

Blurbs on this book use either the word dystopia or post apocalypse but I'm going to take a stand and say I would not apply the term dystopia to this book. The world is too large, there are too many societies, the scope is more global and there is no true oppressing force. Sure there is oppression but it is from various sources of different makings. The book is certainly post apocalyptic and as the reason is revealed, truly believable. When reading modern apocalypse books I'm always leery of how heavily they will rely on "global warming" (sorry "climate change") and I think the author's theory of our ultimate doom should be believable to those on either side of that particular fence.

Religion is a strong theme in the story as well. Although the author is certainly against it. There are a lot of Biblical references in the narrative and yet the main character is agnostic (at the least) and all the Christian characters are villains or fools. The Muslim characters are shown as grouping in cliques and their religion makes them stand out, for various reasons, in the different societies encountered in the book. Being Christian myself, it is always disappointing when characters don't find redemption, but neither is the book offensive, in fact, it is quite thought-provoking. How would a truly Christian character or society have affected the outcome of Makepeace's story?

A fascinating tale of self-preservation at all costs, perseverance that never ends, greed, love, friendship, betrayal. Most of all though it is a desolate, frightening tale of our possible future which still manages to leave a feeling of hope for the future of mankind.

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  1. Wonderful review! This one is on my TBR. Looks good!

  2. Well, we agree on "slow read" I guess. I'm always glad to get an opposing view.


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