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PostApoc Paperback – Oct 15 2013
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About the Author
Liz Worth is an author and performance poet whose book, Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond was the first to give an in-depth account of Toronto's early punk scene. Liz has also written a poetry collection, Amphetamine Heart and three chapbooks. She currently resides in Toronto.
Top Customer Reviews
First of all, PostApoc is not about heroic survival. Novels like I Am a Legend by Richard Matheson made me used to heroes putting so much efforts into staying alive by showing resilience, wit and an impressive will to live. In these stories, “survival” means to fight. Well, there’s nothing as such in PostApoc: Ang is simply too wasted to fight for anything. She is the sole survivor of a suicide pact and coping with her memories became her everyday challenge. Alcohol, drug, music concert, and sleeping in dumb her fears and anguishes down. This makes PostApoc‘s world small and closed, even claustrophobic: it revolves mainly around Ang’s house, if not only in Ang’s mind.
What made PostApoc so fascinating to me is how the End of the world came to challenge Ang’s beliefs. Before “the End” as they call it, she and her friends had embraced nihilism: everything was dark and pointless, death was an ideal. It was a way of life, an aesthetic choice, more than an actual perception of reality.
“We obsessed over self-destruction because that’s just what you did in those days. Even if they didn’t want to admit it, there were so many people who were ready to die. It was romance for a jaded generation.”
The whole novel is about how the happening of The End gives new meanings to Ang’s previous beliefs.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Liz Worth’s Post-Apoc takes place some unspecified time after an unspecified event (or series of events) referred to as ‘The End’. Canada (if not the whole world) is torn, society has fallen, and most if not all adults have disappeared. This leaves the cities populated by teenagers and youths who spend their days coping with the confusion and tragedy by taking vast quantities of alcohol and drugs and going to punk shows. We follow Ang as she wanders around the city, goes to shows and slowly degrades to an emaciated wreck, physically and mentally destroyed. Post-Apoc shuns the fire or ice of the commonly considered apocalypse in favor of a slow, drawn out end of the world and the confusion and ennui that would reign in such a time. At the fore front of the novel lives the inevitable return to basic impulses and horrifyingly banality that would ensue in such an environment.
Worth’s prose is imaginative but uneven. Ornate descriptions and turns of language are employed simply for their own sake and without much thought. This style is not bad in itself but becomes tiresome after a while and hardly manages to pull the weight of the whole book. There are certainly a few moments where the prose shines, such as in the line “The sun’s been stuck on sunset all day, but we’re sweating.” Which works well to juxtapose the evocative environment with the sense of oppression which runs through the work.
The characters are fairly dulled down (which is not necessarily a criticism in such a torn world) but there are also a lot of them and they never seem to stand apart from one another. The main character Ang is for the most part a non-entity, floating around, taking drugs, trying to figure out ways to stay alive. Together Ang and her girlfriends are portrayed as embattled survivors while the few male characters are uniformly out to use and destroy the girls. At least a little bit of nuance here would have made the interactions between characters more believable. The environment is gritty but I never got the feeling that Worth had created a ‘world’. This in part could be due to the isolation inherent in a technologically cut off world, and a world where survival takes priority over exploration and connection, but at least some sense of the state of the outside world would have done well to flesh out the atmosphere.
Much of Post-Apoc follows the characters’ hunt for the mythical drug ‘greyline’ a classic fictional drug, rumored to be ‘…made from the shake of magic mushrooms and the ashes of the dead. That crematoriums have been pillaged to make it.’ It serves well to distract the characters from the horror of their lives, and it becomes evident that the drug is not only addictive but very destructive. Worth does a very nice job drawing out the drug’s insidious damage, where no single dose can be related to the failure of the character’s bodies and yet the incidence of strange illnesses and possible hallucinations become increasingly frequent and increasingly more terrifying.
The self-conscious confusion and existential agony of living as a teenager (even in an unravaged society) is well portrayed here, almost to the point of fetishization. The characters are as lost as any other suburban teens and deal with it as well as they can. There is no hopeful looking toward the future, no hope for escape, no working toward a glorious resolution, an attitude which those of us who have lived through the ages of thirteen and nineteen will immediately find terribly familiar.
Honestly for a good part of the book I found the events (or lack thereof) to be mostly forgettable and found myself apathetic to the work. Towards its last quarter the main drive of Post-Apoc seemed to shift from the packed-in linguistic turns and descriptions of inebriation to a more solid and imminent series of events and I found myself pulled in, and then the book ended on a fairly flat note. A particularly harrowing scene where a strange semi-human monster girl silently takes up residence in the living room of Ang’s squat, passively pushing Ang and her housemates into smaller and smaller areas of the house, was reminiscent of Julio Cortazar’s House Taken Over and played the line nicely between horror and confusion, aggression and exhaustion. Probably to its detriment Post-Apoc as a whole shared quite a few traits with Grace Krilanovich’s Orange Eats Creeps and I found it hard not to compare the two books as I was reading.
Overall Post-Apoc is a readable novel which could appeal strongly to the post Hunger Games crowd. There is very little which is compelling or new here, but it holds a heartfelt and sad allegory of the pain of adolescence and the self-defeating means employed to assuage them.
After being the sole survivor of a suicide pact, Ang finds herself immersed in an underground music scene obsessed with the end of the world. When that finally happens, at first Ang and her friends don't notice because of the intoxicated lifestyle they choose. They live in a supposedly haunted flophouse where the neighborhood dogs are fighting to survive. As clothing, food, alcohol and even makeup become scarce commodities, Ang and her friends are forced (or willing) to make trades for the items they need and crave. At first, as electricity still sometimes works, there is time to go see a favorite band, but the slow erosion of everything takes it's toll on everyone.
It's possibly the most gritty exploration of life in a post apocalyptic world I've ever read. Dirt is everywhere, foodstuffs are questionable, yet still eaten, and bathing is a waste of drinking water. The book feels like it has a layer of grit on it an eighth of an inch thick and seems to laugh at our world of hygiene and antibacterial soap. The fictional drug greyline, which Ang and her friends are addicted to, has a seriously bad set of side effects. This is not a book for the squeamish. I can't call it a straight out horror novel (although it must be) because the prose is so trippingly wonderful. There are passages that are simply beautiful in their description of a dying world. I was held captive by this book and it haunted my dreams. This is definitely a writer I will seek out.
I was given a review copy of this book by Now Or Never Publishing Company and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this unforgettable and haunting book.
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: People who like to have their minds played with
Trigger Warnings: Suicide, suicidal ideation, rape
My Thoughts: Is this all real? That is the question I kept asking myself as I read this book. Is this actually happening, or is this some sort of irreality playing out in the narrator's brain. A hallucination? These questions are never answered, it is left up to the reader to decide if this is real or the imaginings of a very damaged mind. So many of the things that happen have the feeling of a drug-induced psychotic break that I never did decide this for myself.
The fact that this book invaded my dreams should give you a good idea of how strongly these thoughts affected me as I was reading it. But it was also a very hard book to read, with some difficult things running through it. Not only the suicide pact that Ang was part of, but also surviving in the leftovers of the world after everything goes crazy. The starvation, the fear, the danger, the eating of cats and dogs. I just really had a difficult time. In a good way, I hasten to add. This book made me think, made me wonder, and left tendrils of itself in my brain. If you're interested in this book, check it out. Just be99 aware it will seriously mess with your mind.
Disclosure: I received an e-galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: Sole survivor of a suicide pact, Ang has fallen into an underground music scene obsessed with the idea of the end of the world. But when the end finally does come, Ang and her friends don't find the liberation they expected. Instead, those still alive are starving, strung out and struggling to survive in a world that no longer makes sense. As Ang navigates the world's final days, her emotional and physical instability mix with growing uncertainty and she begins to distrust her perception in a place where nothing can ever be trusted for what it seems to be. Bleak and haunting, "PostApoc" blends poetry and punk rock, surrealism and stark imagery to tell the story of a girl wavering at the edge of her sanity.