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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Kings Of A Dead World by Jamie Mollart


Kings of a Dead World by Jamie Mollart.

Published 10th June 2021 by Sandstone Press.

From the cover of the book:

The Earth's resources are dwindling. The solution is the Sleep.

Inside a hibernating city, Ben struggles with his limited waking time and the disease stealing his wife from him. Watching over the sleepers, lonely Peruzzi craves the family he never knew.

Everywhere, dissatisfaction is growing.

The city is about to wake.


This is the kind of book with a short and sweet blurb that gives you no real idea of the delights that await within its pages!

The story unveils its pattern in the first few chapters, introducing us to a chilling dystopian future.  To set the ball rolling we meet Ben and Rose in a chapter that tells us the the city is AWAKE: as they arise from their sleep pods and go about their unenviable existence, living hand to mouth in their tiny apartment. The next chapter introduces us to Peruzzi, the Janitor of the city, who overlooks his charges from on high in his luxury compound, with the help of his virtual assistant Ripley - the city is now SLEEPING and he has tasks to perform to ensure the city may wake again. 

The first thing you ask yourself is why? And the answer is an intriguing one, for this is a future where the impact of climate change has hit hard and there is simply not enough food or fuel to support the population. The solution arrived at lies in alternating periods of sleep and awake times, each for a duration of three months at a time, staggering the periods that cities are awake the world over. Participation is compulsory, and sleep patterns are controlled via the chips inserted in each person's head, which can incidentally also control behaviour by putting trouble makers to sleep during waking periods should they prove to be fractious. Peruzzi is the man in charge of this city, and although he has never set foot in its streets, he takes his responsibilities seriously, even if he is not always happy about it.

Interestingly, this is a book that delves into the how of the matter too, because Mollart also takes us back in time to the period BEFORE when the legacy of environmental changes that have been left unchecked can no longer be ignored. Society is breaking down and while governments wrangle in their ivory towers about possible strategies for the future, unrest among the masses is rife. This part of the story is told through the eyes of a member of a revolutionary party fighting for change, as the dynamic between its members warps, and their methods become increasingly more violent in pursuit of their aims. It's not immediately obvious how this person and their comrades fit into what follows, but as their part of the tale interweaves with the present goings in the city as it swings between AWAKE and SLEEPING time, all becomes clear. 

This is a tale full of complex and circular themes about environment, control, society and the human condition. As events in the present spin out of control, Ben is forced to confront some home truths and Peruzzi comes to learn that all is not quite as he has been told about the world he and his charges are living in. Mollart spins his threads with finely judged precision, upping the tempo as events across the board play out, until they all collide in a pitch perfect ending that has scope for a sequel that I really, really want to read!

There is way too much excellence on show here for me to delve into a brief review, but this is a cracking tale that mixes elements of classic sci-fi with bang up to date themes. I really enjoyed the way Mollart brings something fresh and deeply affecting to this tale by turning the political preoccupations that drove the best sci-fi writers of the past into fears about environmental catastrophe, as this makes this book so relevant for a modern audience. Some of the scenes depicted in this book are visions of a future so close you can almost taste it, and if that doesn't scare the bejesus out of you then you are made of stronger stuff than I am. 

This is one of the most exciting and thought provoking sci-fi reads I have read in a very long time. It's intelligently written by someone who clearly knows how to entertain and raise awareness at the same time, and it is full of the most delicious nods to sci-fi gems that made me chuckle at many points in the story. But this is also a very human tale; the relationship between Ben and Rose is loving and tender, and heartbreakingly sad for reasons you will have to read this stonking book to find out about yourself, and Peruzzi's search for connection is profoundly moving. The way the storylines all touch at the end of the book is a delight too.

I am fully aware that my words have come no where close to telling you how brilliant this book really is, but take my word for it, from the winning title on the cover to the very last page, this is gold!

Kings of a Dead World is available to buy now in hardback, ebook and audio formats, from our favourite book retailer. 

Thank you to Sandstone for sending me a proof of this book in return for an honest review.

About the author:

Jamie Mollart runs his own advertising company, and has won awards for marketing. Over the years he has been widely published in magazines, been a guest on some well-respected podcasts and blogs, and Patrick Neate called him 'quite a writer' on the Book Slam podcast. He is married and lives in Leicestershire with his family.

He's a member of the newly launched Climate Fiction Writers League, a group of global authors all raising awareness about climate change through their writing.

His debut novel, The Zoo, was on the Amazon Rising Stars 2015 list.

Kings of a Dead World is his second novel.

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