Publication Date: 19th February 2016
REVIEWED BY CHAD
A copy of The Dark Roads was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author, Wayne Lemmons, in exchange for an honest review. This is said review. This book is self-published.
Let’s see, how many different ways can I say, “awesome”?
Any time I pick up a new author (new to me, that is) I always do it with a certain amount of trepidation. Especially when the subject and genre of the book is one that has been dealt with many times over. I would never completely turn away from apocalyptic fiction. I write it myself. But I do tend to look for stories of this ilk to be of a certain type and structure. I’m looking mostly for the bleakness of the human experience on a new landscape. I’m looking for a fictional universe where you find yourself legitimately asking if it would have been better or worse to survive through the end of the world. Technothriller angles don’t necessarily win me over as much. I want this to be about us.
The Dark Roads is a stunningly good book.
This is a human story of the highest order. There is plenty here in terms of action and tension and dark foreboding of what the future might bring for these people, but more than all of that is the feeling that as the reader, we are walking alongside them, experiencing what they are experiencing.
As the book starts, it is on the surface of a world that has long since been ravaged by extreme environmental conditions. The temperature of the planet has risen so high, even being outside during the day can lead to disaster.
What I really loved about this is how Lemmons dealt so thoroughly and completely with the actual physical environment of this book. It’s easy to just say that the world has become hostile to human life. It’s something else to be able to show in credible fashion what that world might actually look like. I’ve never been good at research and technical realism. But Lemmons takes the practicalities of staying out of the sun to great lengths, taking an unsettling premise and making it terrifying. This is a book that I definitely wouldn’t have had the patience to craft out to this extent.
We live in a heightened political environment anymore and I suspect that some will read the description for this book and immediately dismiss it as a sort of politicized fiction. I can say that at no point did I feel like Lemmons was engaging in any kind of heavy handed delivery of political doctrine. The issue of climate change is one that can be a hot button topic for many, but this really seems to just be about telling a good story. This isn’t about breaking down the actual process of the world ending. This is about experiencing the struggle of this group of friends as they try to survive out on the road, on a violent and depraved landscape.
It isn’t as much of a stretch to pen a story about zombies tearing the world apart. Or of a shadow government that raises an army to destroy its citizenry. But to write an end of the world scenario using the sun as the primary antagonist, that is a challenge that not many would be able to rise to. Wayne Lemmons pulls it off in fine fashion.
If I had any criticism, it would be the minuscule note that the book concludes with a small epilogue I found to be unnecessary. First of all, it tries to cram a bunch of expository wrap-up into a page or two which feels rushed and out of place at the end of such a carefully executed story. Also, the final chapter before the epilogue ends in powerful fashion and I thought that would have been a better landing spot for the book. It came off to me like Lemmons had the momentary struggle with over-explaining what had just taken place over the course of the book.
Now bear in mind that I discovered that there will evidently be more installments in this universe. So, it could be that the epilogue plays a more important global role, outside just this book.
Regardless of that issue, I still loved this and would have happily taken it down in one sitting if I had had the time. I would recommend it without hesitation.
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In 2020 the sun betrays the inhabitants of planet Earth, finally penetrating an abused ozone layer, and scorching the world and decimating its population.
A group of men including Richie, Buddy, and the unlikely Elvis resolve that times are way too hot in Miami, Florida and decide to trek out, on their own, as far to the north as they can make it. Richie, who is the leader of their faction, suggests Alaska as the most favorable destination and the journey begins.
They find themselves navigating the U.S. and Canadian Highways through long and lonely nights, sleeping in underground dwellings to avoid the deadly radiation of the daylight hours. Throughout their travels they scavenge limited supplies in department stores and gas stations in order to sate thirst, hunger, and the need for ammunition to protect against the looming threat of human nature.
As the three life-long friends make their way toward Alaska, they encounter new friends in the form of a strong, but damaged, woman who will hold them even closer together, a young girl and her substitute father, and an improbable stray cat.
They find grave dangers in the forms of a loving father and his two seemingly innocent daughters, groups of cannibals and the people trying to avoid them, and a lack of easily procured supplies that have met the same fate as the charred plants and animals of the globe.
The sun, though the most obvious hazard to their journey, is seemingly the easiest to overcome. Only determination, cunning, and loyalty to each other can ensure their survival in this savage existence.
CONFESSIONS REVIEWS WAYNE LEMMONS
Remember when you were a kid and told everyone that you wanted to be an astronaut-cowboy-billionaire? I didn’t really do any of that, but the principle still remains the same. I’m a wrench-monkey by day, a writer/editor/proof-reader/drunkard by night, and a scuba diver on the weekends. I was born in Kentucky and somehow found myself on Clearwater Beach living in a houseboat with a group of eclectic neighbors that are sure to grace the pages of one of my books in the near future. What a terribly boring life I lead, right?
I’ve been writing since I pumped out my first short story at the glorious age of nine. For some reason the story was absolutely violent beyond belief and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to tone down the language since then. I was a vulgar little kid.
I’m continuing the dream of that nine-year-old by writing full-length novels that will take you to emotional places that you may or may not want to go, but the journey will leave you fulfilled and unsettled. Two feelings that I love to invoke.
So read my books! You’ll love them, I promise!
And for more about Wayne, visit his site or find him on Social Media: