Art Imitates Life
I think a lot of authors (not necessarily M.R Carey because well he’s M.R. Carey) need to breathe. Sure, they’ve been writing about plagues, dystopian societies and apocalyptic world fates for years, but that doesn’t mean they should be panicking now. The world has always believed in art imitating life. Ok, maybe not Oscar Wilde, but he’s an outlier. The Book of Koli, the first book in the Rampart Trilogy is, as Carey mentioned in his interview with me (linked above), a part of a trend of story lines where mother nature takes some form of revenge on humanity, because it is on the minds of anyone who is paying attention, authors included.
What is essential for not just Carey, but all those spinning the tales of these scary times, is what they do with them. Everyone has their own lens and their own voice. What you do with that voice is what makes each story unique and critical. The Book of Koli is the beginning of what promises to be a very unique take on the immediate and long-term devastation of our current state of in-actions. Also, it may just point to a direction of what hope might linger, if mother nature ever decided to give us another chance.
Seriously. Not that anyone will believe me but that’s cool. I have a balcony/patio/whatever you want to call it (the mountain lion showed up on that night without being invited). That part everyone knows. Anyway. I can go out on that still because it is private, and no one is there (well before I got sick). Anyhow, The Book of Koli was the last book I really read when it was nice out and I started to not feel well. And I dropped it off the balcony. There was someone walking their dog. I’m on the second floor. So, it wasn’t loud. They might have looked over. It wasn’t some grand huge thing, except I had to go get it. And the guy who lives below me wasn’t out. So, no big deal.
As I walked down the steps, to pick up the book and walked back up the steps I cursed Carey in English and Italian I realized what Carey had done. And why it mattered so much.
There In Lies The Torment- The Structure
See, The Book of Koli is a memoir. Instead of the unreliable narrator or that slow roll of unknowing like The Girl with All the Gifts? You get a narrator who knows the whole damn story. And you know he knows the whole damn story. And you are just reading along till you get…
In the end, the trouble come anyway, but that telling will have to wait for now.
And then Koli just goes on with the story. Like he didn’t just tell you something horrendous was coming but no he isn’t going to tell you about that now. He’s just going to wait because he has to wait. NO, NO YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT.
And so that is how the structure of The Book of Koli runs. Told from the perspective of Koli, a mostly illiterate member of a very post-apocalyptic world where nature has the hast the ability to devour people. This memoir starts with his time in Mythen Rood. In order to make it as realistic as possible everything is explained in very simplistic terms. The grammar and phonetics are often choppy and purposely incorrect. It stays true to Koli’s voice, which has a dialect and description for a world where language has dropped off dramatically.
While Koli is a teenager, he still represents the “every man”. He is frustrated with his lot in life. He sees what is going on around him and he wants more. The love of his life married his best friend. The place in society he wants to be a part of won’t have him. And the path that is set forth for him? It just isn’t enough. He knows everyone accepts their life and their place in it. And he knows that he should accept his. So, he tries.
So, I did what fools always have done since time was time, which is I pissed in my own milk and then complained about the taste of it.
If that isn’t one of the quotes of the year? I’ll be shocked.
That has to be one of the easiest feelings to relate to, ever. At some point in everyone’s life, you’ve felt like that. If not? You just haven’t ever wanted something bad enough.
Mythen Rood is a structured society. Everyone has their part. Some work with wood, some gather food, and some protect or keep watch. Ramparts use electronics from our era to do most of the protecting and hunting outside the walls that protect the community. This technology is from our era and the future. While, they wield it, it is widely unknown to them. Koli does his best to describe it in exact and literal terms.
This “magical” technology will seem very logical to readers and there are those at Mythen Rood who will make a power grab after figuring out some of the secrets behind the “magic.” The tension builds around the introduction of an outsider who is much more educated. She comes with medical supplies and travels from community to community. Ursula helps many. She is both respected and disliked. The feeling is mutual, as she doesn’t care to stay around people much other than helping them.
Ursula is a very complex and brilliantly written character. It is easy to both respect her and completely distrust her, despise her, even. However, much about her speech, her knowledge, her level of technology and what she says gives clues to so much going on beyond the walls of Mythen Rood, if you pay attention. This is the first half of the Book of Koli. And as much as I can tell you without giving too much away.
Thank you to Orbit for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot I can say about act two other than it is really what sets up the rest of the series. For reasons that you will have to find out for yourself, Koli travels beyond the walls of Mythen Rood (it says that much in the summary). Many hidden secrets that are kept from the entirety of Mythen Rood come to light, along with another pending danger to what remains of the entire planet.
What happens to him beyond that point would give away much more than I’m willing to say.
Two overall worlds built in The Book of Koli. Mythen Rood and beyond the wall. Both are done distinctively and utilizing not just site and the physicality of the places but primal fear. There is a palpable fear and creepiness of everything around you being alive and a threat, which especially grows beyond the walls that is physically debilitating to read. Within that there are minor worlds that come into play that are equally built-up and flushed out. Each are unique and some taking turns I definitely never saw coming.
I would imagine that throughout the series there is much more of this to come, or at least I would hope so. If that is the case, I believe it will be a phenomenal ride.
There are three major characters – Koli, Ursula and Monono- a voice AI for the Sony Dreamsleeve technology from Act 1. Character? Well you’ll just have to figure that out in Act 2
The second book, The Trials of Koli, is due out in September. And it is just going to keep building through The Fall of Koli, next April.