Sunday, February 26, 2012

11 PM Book Review: Supervolcano: Eruption

Supervolcano: Eruption is a soft apocalyptic novel about catastrophic environmental change in the wake of the Yellowstone cauldera blowing up and dumping ash over a third of the United States. It views the events through the lense of a family: a cop, his ex wife, their grown children, and his girlfriend.

I liked most of the characters in this. It was interesting to see how they dealt with their individual issues, and the author drew their characters very sharply. You could generally see their flaws better than their strengths, and clearly see how each affected their choices. The most interesting problem belonged to the self important and bitchy character of Vanessa, the cop protagonist's daughter. She ends up living in refugee camps spread around the ash fall from the volcano, and I would have liked to see a lot more of her and how she dealt with her problems.

Unlike character driven Sci-Fi with similar themes, say the Niven and Pournelle disaster novels, Supervolcano didn't 't really hold up for me. Although I liked the characters, I felt that they alone were not a strong enough throughline to carry the story. Really, this is a disaster story, and there's not nearly enough disaster in it. It takes some 95 pages to get to the eruption. Mind you, no one survives a supervolcano. So the way the author handled the eyewitness account of the eruption was elegant. But for the rest of the novel, most of the characters are relatively unaffected. They live out their day to day concerns: how to stay in college, how to defend a thesis, how to bag groupies on the road... and the Supervolcano affects them largely with inconveniences.

So, I liked the characters, but it got kind of boring watching them sometimes. And there was a Supervolcano in the background that I wanted to see more of. I think this is part of a series, and if the author follows his usual themes, other series entries will deal with How-Life-Changed-As-A-Result. Which I cold see being interesting. But probably not enough to make me pick up another installment.

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