Kings of a Dead World
By Jamie Mollart
- Kings of a Dead World
Author: Jamie Mollart
Sandstone Press Ltd
- ISBN: 9781913207458
- Published: June 2021
- Pages: 388
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 22/06/2021
- Language: English
There are two ways that you can view the future. We are all doomed, or we will somehow save ourselves. The optimistic The Day the Earth Stood Still way of thinking is that humans will only get around to do something when we are really in a pickle. World ending disaster will be averted at the last moment by ingenuity and co-operation. The pessimist view is that individuals are selfish, and nations look after themselves. Kings of a Dead World by Jamie Mollart certainly has a downbeat view on people. Not only is this a future in which individuals helped to destroy the world, but Nation States only got together when it was time to repress the masses.
For centuries humans used more energy than the world could provide, rolling blackouts turned into a state of emergency. In the future the only way to save resources is to put the masses to sleep. For three months they are comatose and allowed out for one month. Ben finds himself in this world having to look after his wife, who is suffering from some form of dementia. Each time she wakes she recognises less of her husband. Whilst they sleep, the one person awake is the Janitor, Peruzzi, whose job it is to keep the residents of his sector safe. Both Ben and Peruzzi start to question if this is a world worth saving.
I have often found that Dystopian novels are uplifting as they can focus on the chink of light at the end of tunnel. The concept of hope is a strong one and it can motivate both a character and a reader. Kings is not that type of novel. It is a book that punishes humans for their crimes. The setup is a logical one – what do we do when resources start to run out and the population becomes too much for the world to handle.
It starts with prisoners, then the ill and then the old – all put to death. The rest of the population are forced to sleep their lives away. To get a sense of how this world came about Mollart splits the narrative into three. The current Ben, his younger self and the story of Peruzzi. This is a fantastic way of giving the reader a rounded sense of the world. Ben allows an insight into how the everyman lives and his past has more of a role in man’s downfall than most.
Peruzzi’s story is the odd part out as he is not a sleeper. This character is very different from almost anyone else in the book, apart from the other Janitors. Who are these people? They appear to hold the power of life and death over the residents of the areas they protect. When Peruzzi starts to question his own role, the book expands even further. There are even more elements at play than the reader first releases. Although the end of the world feels close, there is still enough exploration for a second book to be written.
Kings is a book that will make a reader think. It makes you question the world today and ponder how we think that humans would react should things go bad. It is packed with some great science fiction ideas with the world of the Sleepers and the Janitors being two well realised concepts. With topics like the end of the world, dementia and the futility or life, this is not a book that will uplift a reader. However, it is still very readable and will have you thinking long after the final page has been read.
Written on 22nd June 2021 by Sam Tyler .