|Average Fan Rating:||
Rating from TwistedSciFi
Do you ever wonder what life on Earth will be like 15 years from now? Richard Stephenson takes a peek into the not-so-distant future in his dystopian novel, Collapse.
Most other Science Fiction books that I’ve read, look into a distant future, but Stephenson’s book projects a future that’s only a brief 15 years away. The benefit of this is that it’s very easy to develop a context with the story and the characters.
The risk with this approach is that much of the novel may be obsolete within the next 15 years. Stephenson makes references to Apple, Google and Facebook in his story. Will these companies even be relevant in 15 years?
Characters in Collapse use iPads. In 15 years, will an iPad be the equivalent of an 8-track or VHS tape? Is there a risk of alienating future readers in order to appeal to current readers? Will readers still find this sort of story relevant and interesting down the road?
What’s great about this novel?
Stephenson’s character development is excellent; this is the true strength of Collapse. His characters have diverse backgrounds and unique personality traits. Each new character is introduced with their own sub-story that somehow weaves into the overall plot. The tale of Chester Stephens, the General Manager of Wal-Mart, was one of my favorite.
As a warning, the chapter about the character, Richard Dupree, is rife with racial slurs and will expose you to a white supremist group in a California prison. Avoid this book if this topic makes you uncomfortable. Certain story lines include adult content; Collapse is not appropriate for young readers.
Another aspect of Collapse that I really enjoyed was the way Richard Stephenson takes the realities of our current geo-political environment and projects them into the future. This includes ballooning gas prices, the Occupy Wall Street movement and extreme weather anomalies.
Right now, there are uncontrollable wildfires in Colorado, and a recent tropical storm caused massive power outage in the Midatlantic. In addition, there have been more named storms in the month of June 2012 than in the history of tropical storm tracking.
These chaotic influences are all extrapolated in a very skillful and plausible way, and then married with the realities of the post 9-11 world of terrorism and counter-terrorism. Stephenson dares to imagine the worst case scenario if these forces become completely uncontrollable and are mismanaged by our leaders. The ensuing chaos makes for great reading.
Stephenson does a masterful job of building a suspenseful ending to each chapter and then shifting to another character’s story. This clever technique makes it difficult to put down the book.
What would I change about Collapse?
I struggled the most with the ending of the book. **Spoiler alert** The Vice President has assumed power and is allegedly responsible for assassinating the president. Following all of the chaos that’s ensued in the United States, the Vice President is planning to run the country as a dictator. A plausible way to accomplish this would have been for him to declare a temporary state of martial law and then just refuse to relinquish martial law.
Instead the author opts to have the Vice President come out and explain to his cabinet and the American people that democracy is a failed experiment and that he’s essentially going to run the country like North Korea. The author even has American citizens cheer when this announcement is made.
From my point of view, the author is just taking too much liberty here. I can’t ever envision Americans, or citizens from any democratic country, embracing this even with a catastrophic collapse. The best fiction is believable from cover to cover, and this novel falls short in this regard.
**Spoiler alert** The ending was also disappointing for me. I felt like there wasn’t really an ending per se, but the characters are finally arranged in a place where the actual story can begin. I’m quite certain that there is a sequel or sequels planned. I was looking for more of a conclusion to the collapse and ensuing power vacuum.
Who should read this book?
Although I have a few criticisms, this book is a real page-turner that’s hard to put down. If you’re looking for a lot of action, or if you enjoy military science fiction this book is definitely for you.
If you’re looking for sophisticated prose and subtlety, you’ll probably want to skip this book. Stereotypically, this book is probably better for beer drinkers than wine connoisseurs.
Collapse is definitely written from a male point of view, and my suspicion is the male readers will be more inclined to enjoy this book. I’d love to hear from female readers in the comments section below if you think I missed the mark here.
When it was first launched, the book existed only as an unfinished “Sneak Peek,” and my initial rating was 4.5 stars. Having now read the entire novel, I’ve revised my overall rating to 4.0 stars based on my concerns with the story’s ending. This book is still a recommended read.
Click here for your chance to win a free autographed copy of Collapse.
Have you read the Collapse? Please share your comments below, and don’t forget to click on the yellow stars at the top of this post to share your rating (1-5 stars) of Collapse.