Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The Electric Kingdom - David Arnold

Well, if the words apocalyptic or dystopian are used to describe a book, it automatically goes on my TBR list. Such was the case with The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold.

Here's a synopsis from Viking Books For Young Readers. My thoughts follow.

"New York Times bestseller David Arnold's most ambitious novel to date; Station Eleven meets The 5th Wave in a genre-smashing story of survival, hope, and love amid a ravaged earth.

When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico's father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. As swarms of infected Flies roam the earth, these few survivors navigate the woods of post-apocalyptic New England, meeting others along the way, each on their own quest to find life and love in a world gone dark. The Electric Kingdom is a sweeping exploration of art, storytelling, eternal life, and above all, a testament to the notion that even in an exterminated world, one person might find beauty in another."

My Thoughts:

Well, the setting is bound to make you wonder....a Fly Flu that has decimated the world as we know it. Close to home in these times...

The novel is told from three points of view - eighteen year old Nico and her dog Harry (loved Harry!), twelve year old Kit and a person called The Deliverer. I love the multiple points of view delivery style. It's guaranteed to keep me up late, reading just one chapter to see what's going on with each character.
Although they have stayed safe all these years, circumstances, wants, desires, curiosity and more drive each of them out into the world. I was just as curious to see what Arnold had imagined. 

Kit and Nico are wonderful leads. I loved the way Kit thought - and his love of 'his' library. He was so well drawn and immediately captured my heart. Being older, Nico is more of a critical thinker - could the stories her father tells be real? There are a number of supporting characters that also have stories to tell. The Deliverer's is the most enigmatic.

Out on the road, the evidence of a ruined world is there. But, that's not the focus of Arnold's tale. Instead it is about relationships missed, treasured, remembered - and those that might be. I found myself wanting a bit more of the ruined world.

As their trek continues, Arnold begins to knit together the threads of the three stories. He does so in a way I hadn't anticipated or imagined. And, I must admit it - in a way that had me struggling to put it together sometimes. Definitely thought provoking though. This is marketed as a YA novel. I would think that older teens would be more likely to grasp Arnold's work.

I did enjoy The Electric Kingdom, but not as much as I had hoped. I think I was looking for more of the ravaged world, instead of ...... Well, I'll leave that alone as I don't want to spoil things for prospective readers. The Electric Kingdom weighs in at 432 pages. Which kept me rapt for most of the time, but near the end I felt like things could have been tightened up and told in fewer pages. Here's an excerpt of The Electric Kingdom.  

I liked it, but didn't love it and I think I'm in the minority on this one. Check out what others thought on Goodreads.  

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