Book Review: The Fall – Steve Campitelli
Happy Wednesday everyone!
If you checked out my blog post yesterday, an Interview with Steve Campitelli, then thank you very much! If you haven’t read it yet and would like to know a little bit more about this book, please go and check out this post afterwards!
Today, I get the privilege of sharing my thoughts about the book with you.
***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***
Melbourne, 2052, two years since The Fall.
A wave of infection, the Jackson Virus, has swept the world, leaving in its wake a terrifying apocalyptic wasteland populated by wild cleanskin survivor groups and the ravenous, infected night predators – the jacks. In this nightmare landscape, one of the last remaining sanctuaries is Kulin Wallcom, a community enclosed by a 10-metre wall patrolled by what’s left of the military. The wallcoms are the last remaining bastions of defence and security in a world gone over the edge.
But the people of Kulin can’t stay behind their wall forever.
Recovery expert, John Bradley, is part of a major operation into the wasteland looking to not only ensure the survival of Kulin by bringing back critical supplies from the abandoned Southstone Supermall, but, more crucially, to also locate and extract the only person left who may be able to reverse the tide of infection.
However, the mission faces danger at every turn. It seems to be compromised from the inside, Southstone is thought to be an impossible target overrun with infected, and wasteland survivor bands, led by the psychopathic wasteland leader, the Headhunter, are bent on making sure the operation has to fight each step of the way to get back to the wallcom before nightfall.
Because that’s when the jacks come out.
And they will find you.
Welcome to the world of The Fall.
How would you cope, being thrown into a world overrun with infected?
I sure wouldn’t.
Nothing screams desolation better than the hot, dry, and almost uninhabited Wastelands of Melbourne, Australia – at least, it isn’t inhabited by many humans. Only small, ramshackle communities remain, but not by choice. Infected stalk their prey in the night, looking to feast off human flesh and infect the remaining population. Life for the remaining survivors is not an easy one.
Kulin is not wholly self-sustainable, and when they undertake their most ambitious “pick” yet, will the operation run smoothly? There is a lot to play for and much to gain; personal ambition may threaten the entire operation.
The post-apocalyptic vibe of this book reminded me of another book I enjoyed last year, Bad City by Matt Mayr. I’ve also been listening to The Stand by Stephen King, and whilst this is of a different genre entirely, they have one thing in common – the world as we know it being ripped apart by a deadly virus and civilisation scraping together to start again as best they can.
The narrative is well thought out and constructed in a diarised format, giving each POV an almost personal touch. The text is still written in third person (which admittedly is my favourite), but each chapter clearly states who our perspective is from. There are a sizeable number of POV’s but some of these aren’t extensive contributors to the book. For example Helen, whilst being a significant character in the narrative as a medic in Kulin, only has a small number of chapters to her name. Bearing this in mind, I think these entries have been written in the best way to help the reader keep track.
I understand why certain characters viewpoints were favoured, such as Bradley’s and Skylar’s; however, I would have liked to see a little more contribution from Helen. The other infrequent contributors had less of a part to play in the novel and their mere five minutes of fame is therefore understandable, but maybe as the series progresses we will get to see more of the minor characters.
The book is set with the right pace, allowing events to unfold in their own good time – such meticulous planning cannot be rushed. As the “BIG” operation is planned out, he outlines the everyday lives and hazards of the residents of Kulin, in order to make us understand just how huge a risk they are taking. Inevitably, the first few chapters are necessary to acquaint the reader and in this genre, this is all the more important. The rules are different and they need to be outlined. The first couple of chapters weren’t my favourite, (I didn’t fall in love straight away, but I didn’t dislike them either) but they accurately set the tone for the rest of the book. For me, the narrative picked up when the wheels are set in motion for the planning of the expedition.
I am also glad that Steve isn’t precious about any of the characters – after all, they live in a harsh world! It hardly seems realistic if the main characters somehow live in a protective bubble and manage to dodge all the bullets. Events transpire with the appropriate level of impact, and that is a skill to be admired.
The characters vulnerability makes them relatable to us as a reader. Fear is an emotion we all experience at one time or another – and in expressing our fear many of us let our guard down. Out on the Wasteland, adrenaline runs high. One lapse in concentration can mean death or infection, if not for you, then one of your buddies. Tragedy is only around the corner and it affects everyone in different ways. The diversity of characters, their personal background and their varied approaches to the situation they live in are an asset to the narrative and its development, as well as portraying an all-too-realistic response to this fictional pandemic.
The Fall is an enjoyable, read and makes a perfect introduction to what has the potential to be an excellent series. I think you could read The Fall as a standalone story if you wanted to, as the immediate conflicts are resolved, there are leads that will no doubt be carried forward into the future series and I for one would love to see how these get resolved.