Hello, Travelers. Having perused both volumes of CAtE by Siren’s Call Publication, I’ll be stopping by to post my thoughts and impressions about each selection.
Charlie and Jimmy travel across the savage, ash strewn wasteland of American society in hopes of reaching NASA to board a shuttle off of their decimated planet. Their journey takes them to a small, abandoned gas station- or so they think. They soon find that two people are left at the station.
The owner, Harold, invites the young men in for some food, introducing them to Mary Harmer. As the stragglers get to know each other, it becomes clear that some people aren‘t as nice as they seem…
Each figure in the story is given a great deal of attention; even the narration has a unique flair. There’s something to each character that makes them seem to pop off the page. Whether you identify with the focused, quiet, and occasionally surly Jimmy or the happy go lucky and eternally casual Charlie (or one of the other two distinct side characters) you can be sure to find somebody worth rooting for. However, it feels like there isn’t much love between the two main characters, meaning some events towards the end of the story feel lacking in poignancy.
The settings are touched upon through the use of some great imagery. It is easy to imagine the ragged man and woman holed up and starving in a desolate gas station, with nothing around them but hordes of uncouth survivors and miles of highway adorned with ruined vehicles. In fact, one of my favorite parts of the story was the fact that the reader is given a mental 360 of the ruined environment, each detail available for the eye to behold.
The only other thing that threw me off with this story was the fact that the environment appears to be radioactive, but Charlie Jimmy appear to be unharmed only through the use of gas masks. Some characters even appear to dine on radioactive meat without issue. It struck me as odd that these characters would not exhibit some sign of illness throughout the text.
All in all, this is a story with unique, well-voiced characters and interesting environments, though a few of the finer points didn’t sit well with me. I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.