*I received a free ecopy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes used in this review were from an ARC and may be different in the final book.*
How do you even write a review for such an indescribable book???
It was just so different.
A unique, powerful kind of different.
This man, Cavalo, he kind of hears voices in his head that he refers as bees because they buzz at him and crawl under his skin. And sometimes he gets lost to his own demons and relives the horrors of his past. And sometimes he sees and hears things that aren’t there. And he often kind of personifies things or just imagines the thoughts of others as though they’re real based on their actions and facial expressions. And his dog reads his thoughts and understands his words and responds back to Cavalo in his head, which he thinks he’s imagining but isn’t quite sure. In fact, he isn’t quite sure whether anything is real or imaginary sometimes because he’s losing his sanity, which he refers to as rubber bands, and they’re snapping.
I know, I know, all of that sounds confusing, right?
Well it wasn’t. And it wasn’t a psychological mindfuck type of book either. It was just a book about a man whose mind was a riveting place to be, and it was all written in a way that was so damn smooth and fluid and amazing that I started to forget that some of it might not be quite real and willfully flowed right into the insanity with him.
But it was more than just the writing that was incredible. The characters were so complex and interesting and broken. Even the dog and the robot. And the bonds between them were equally as complex, interesting, and, sometimes, broken. There was even a tiny sliver of what you might technically call romance (or rather a setup for future romance), and it too was complex since it was far more bloody and murderous than it was romantic. *SPOILER ALERT* But that first kiss! I stopped and went back to reread it again because just—the two of them—the bees screamed—SO PERFECT! *END SPOILER ALERT*
This book was really dark, disturbing, and tragic at times—I’m no stranger to dark books, but this one had even me cringing at the horror of some of the violence and torture and death—so it won’t be for everyone. But it was also quirky and funny at other times. Sometimes the two even overlapped to form some really macabre humor. And all of this just worked because it was so seamlessly blended together.
The [man] stared down at the tarp-wrapped body of Thomas.
“You can’t eat him,” Cavalo said, more harshly than he intended. “He’s been dead a while, and the body is probably halfway frozen. Don’t you try and eat him.”
The only issue I had was that I didn’t quite understand the ending and felt like the story was incomplete (as in, I know it’s part of a series, but I think Book 1 could’ve included more), but I’m letting it slide because there will be another book and because it was just that good.
As for that afterword and that line that says, “There is a war coming. And war always has casualties“?
Them’s fightin’ words, TJ Klune.
But anyway… Yeah. This book. Dark. Quirky. Gruesome. Funny. Tragic. Different. Beautiful. Really, you just have to read it to understand. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Anyone who likes dark yet quirky books, broken characters, and M/M romance that's more complex than it is romantic, who doesn't mind graphic violence, and who wants to read something powerfully unique and beautiful.
More Books in the Series:
Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.
One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the Northern Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.
It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.
The world has died.
This is the story of its remains.