I’m a judge for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest, and while the semi-finalists are out, I’ve been circling back and reading through books from other groups that looked intriguing.
The Nothing Within by Andy Giesler
A plague knocked out most of the human population centuries ago. Now, Root lives in a society with rigid traditions and structures that they believe is the only way to survive. Meanwhile, readers dive into journal entries and a few other tastes of the past to help outline what’s happening in the novel’s present.
I wouldn’t call The Nothing Within kaleidoscopic in its storytelling, though it borrows some from that style. Instead, Root’s story grounds the other writings that are contained in the novel. And Root’s story is just phenomenally told. The narrative voice that Giesler gives Root makes everything feel not just interesting but also utterly believable and real. It’s a totally convincing narrative voice that makes reading the book feel like stepping into someone else’s head at times.
The world Giesler created is interesting, but a bit more generic than the narrative voice. It’s got some of the hallmarks of dystopia/post-apocalyptic to it, but Giesler gives enough twists to keep it engaging all the way through. The most important thing is that it’s understandable how society developed as it did once you read more of the story.
The real draw here, though, is following Root’s story as she comes of age and gets old, letting readers into the mind of someone whose life mattered in a society that needed some change. And Giesler absolutely nails that, making this a must-read for fans of the subgenre.
The Nothing Within is a great read for those who enjoy different takes on post-apocalyptic fiction. Recommended.
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