Half Lives - Sara Grant
Available - 09 July 2013
How far would you go to survive? That is the question I have been asking myself for the last few days in the aftermath of reading Sara Grant's new novel, where her characters were forced to make just such horrendous decisions...
What starts out as an ordinary and somewhat sub par day in the life of Isis (Icie to her friends) quickly deteriorates into the day to end all days - literally. Terrorists are releasing a deadly pathogen to all major US cities and within 24 hrs the world will be in absolute panic, most will already be annihilated in its path - this is what Icie is told as her parents bundle her onto a plane bound for Las Vegas with directions to find an isolated unused nuclear waste bunker deep in the nearby mountains at any cost. What follows is the quick deterioration of the civilised way people treat each other in the face of an unknown threat.
What's most different about this story to other post apocalyptic novels I've read lately is the timing, rarely are we shown the actual breakdown of humanity and what's even more interesting is that this is a story split in two parts - one part is Icie in the 'here and now' as the disease takes hold and life outside the bunker is vastly unknown while the other is from Beckett's point of view - an ancestor of the bunker survivors and his clans spiritual leader, presumably hundreds of years in the future. Slowly Sara pieces together the cause and effect from Icie's present yet past and Beckett's current world, the result is much farther reaching than initial appearances and posses not only one but two important hypothetical questions to humanities future - the first being how could humans be so callous as to inflict such a catastrophic disease on their own kind? and the second is how can we possibly protect future generations from the Nuclear waste we create when it can take up to 10,000 years to be safe? what language can we use to say 'stay away' when all our known languages may well be gone??
Alarming, insightful and often humorous in the most unexpected ways, this story will take you out of your comfort zone while giving hope and a new appreciation of the fragility of the world we live in.