Posted in book review, books

a turtle’s eye view – the n-body problem by tony burgess

disclaimer – i received an e-galley of this book from chizine publications in exchange for an honest review.

when the zombie apocalypse came the world knew what it meant. it meant mindless, marauding, ravenous flesh-machines. it meant destroyed ways of life, horrible and painful death for the living, and fear. only, in time, the world realized that it didn’t mean that at all. the zombies didn’t want to eat they just sort of laid there, twitching. so not only was the world unprepared, it was at a loss as to what to do with these undead members of society – where to put them, how to remove them.

that’s when the corporations took over the problem. and the zombie apocalypse became just another financial opportunity. the business that tried burning them all in giant ovens didn’t succeed – too many horrible reminders. the business that tried burying them all in giant landfills didn’t succeed – all that twitching and wriggling just brought everything back to the surface. finally, waste management corp. saved the day and turned grave rituals into a profitable business; ceremonial send-offs of our dead into space. only now, earth’s atmosphere is full of dead bodies and the effects are multiplying, with devastating consequences.

the n-body problem is a devastating story. i tried to put it down twice and found myself going back to it despite deciding that i just couldn’t finish it. it was lyrical and haunting and absolutely starkly visceral. this is not a zombie story, this is the story of what happens when rationality breaks down and there are no rules left. this is not a zombie story, this is the story of what happens when society flees because to stay is just too painful. this is not a zombie story, this is the story of what happens at the end of sanity.

tony burgess is a terrifying author. i’ve rarely come across someone who wields words so well that i simply could not abandon the story, even when i wanted to. he uses language as a weapon, so that the deep-seated reasoning inside disappears and you’re left being pummeled by images that you don’t understand (or maybe it’s just that you won’t want to). in lesser hands, this story would turn into a parody of itself or just an excuse to wallow in horrors best left unwritten. in burgess’ hands, you keep reading, searching for understanding in the horror. you’re left wondering not only “what did i just read” but going back to it again to try to figure out where it all went wrong and if, in the end, any of it had meaning.

five out of five stars

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