I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
After having received this story, I discovered that this novel was actually published in 1994. It has gotten a great deal of attention in the past for its unique portrayal of a post-apocalyptic setting. Perhaps the version that I have received is a more updated one, but either way, the story remains the same, and was still a pleasure to read.
One night, the Vanishing happened. 90% of the human race disappeared without any warning, without a trace. In a world where the remaining 10% had their lives ripped apart, it was no wonder that civilization collapsed and violence and chaos ensued. Eventually, peace was restored in the Bay Area, as people began to form communities and established pacts with others around them. In these little bands, united by their beliefs of what happened, people began to work towards surviving, renewing contact with the rest of the world, and establishing connections with each other, all the while trying to figure out what caused the Vanishing. 30 years later, Dr. Easterman has decided to join a team of scientists in Silicon Valley to conduct research on the causes and effects of the Vanishing. She travels across the continent to arrive here, and is greeted by the inhabitants of the House, who have madea good life for themselves and for future generations. Here, Easterman meets Renzie, a young woman who is drawn into the middle of the political struggles between the various groups that live in the Valley. While all may seem peaceful at first, it soon becomes clear that some of these outlying groups may not have peaceful intentions at all – especially as the Outbounders begin to terrorize all those who do not believe in their faith.
I know that my synopsis may not be very clear and might seem like it is all over the place…. but there is really no better way of summarizing what this novel is all about. At first I thought this story would be about some crazy thing that is happening 30 years after this apocalyptic event. But this novel is so much more than that. This is one of the most realistic novels I have read in this genre. It describes real conflicts between different groups, how people can (and sometimes, cannot) coexist with those who have unique belief systems. This novel also suggests an apocalypse that is very unique, with elements that I have never seen in any other story. While I wish the author had described what caused the event in the first place, it didn’t take anything away from the story. The characters were unique, and wonderfully deep. The scientific aspects were well thought out, and I learned a great deal through the explanations! I especially liked that the author brought in sociological aspects into scientific research, because, quite often, this area is completely ignored. In general, what I enjoyed the most about this story is its realism; the realistic interactions and depictions of the characters, the realistic possibility of an event like this happening… it all just pulled me in and kept me engrossed in the story until the very end. If you are looking for a unique and interesting dystopian novel, then definitely give this one a shot!