‘Shelter’ by Dave Hutchinson

‘Interesting Lack Of Bikes’

Score: 4/5

The setting is a post-apocalyptic England, about a century after the disaster. The few people left are generations after the initial survivors coped with the massive starvation. The only technology that remains is stuff people have managed to maintain.

Guns, for example, seem to be quite available. For a price, of course, but available anyway. Lots of the people in this book have guns.

But despite the long distances travelled, there are no bikes.

This seems very odd. I’ve no idea if I could maintain a gun for a hundred years, but I’m certain I’d have a much better chance maintaining a bicycle for that long. I think you’d run out of bullets years before my tyres became unpatchable.

I am probably the only person that notices or cares about this, I know...

So, putting that aside, there’s another thing worth mentioning here: this is book 1 in a series from different authors. I’m not sure this is a good thing.

We’ve had books - great, standalone books. And then there were sequels. Sometimes the sequels were good, sometimes they were bad, sometimes they were obvious cash-ins, but they were at least from the original author.

Then we had ‘sequels’ from other authors if the original author died. There are good and bad examples of this too.

Then we had books that were created to be part of a series. And there have been some very long series. But again these were by the same author.

This is the first time I’ve seen a series and setting created by a publisher, with the publisher deliberately seeking out different authors for different books in the series. (I’m sure there have been plenty and I just don’t know them.)

It just seems a step in the wrong direction to me. I’m wary of publishers taking that kind of control. It feels like design-by-committee, choosing stories via focus-groups instead of an author having a passion and feel for a particular theme. Or (perhaps more accurately) it feels more like the way films are made these days than books - the culmination of input from a wide range of people instead of just a lone author and editor.

With all that said, it’s not a bad book. Overall it’s pretty good, in fact. There’s foreshadowing. There’s mystery. There’s character - not much personal growth in the main characters, but there is at least some character there. Just no bikes.

Tags: 4 Word Book Reviews
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