The Book of Koli – MR Carey

“I got a story to tell you.”

As climate change wrecks havoc on the world, those clever boffins found ways to genetically manipulate plants to deal with the new conditions. But, as these things invariably seem to do, everything got more than a little out of hand. Trees are now bloodthirsty monsters to be feared, nature has gone feral, and mankind lives in small enclaves, fighting for survival.

I wondered if a book about a post-apocalyptic world would be a little too close to the reality of these strange times we’re actually living through, but thankfully Koli’s world is something far enough removed as to make for an enjoyable, not traumatic, read. But while killer trees might sound comedic, I can assure you it’s not. This is believably fight-for-survival, humans gone back to earlier times, but surrounded by leftover tech – some, but not much, of which still works.

In Koli’s village, everyone is tested to see if the tech will work for them. Those that can use the weapons that keep the village safe are raised to be ‘Ramparts’ – ruling the others. Koli’s determination to become one of the elite will send him off into adventures of which he could never have dreamed…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The mix of a fantasy-ish olde-world level of society with these semi-mythical pieces of equipment and warped stories of the ‘old world’ is something that feels familiar from any number of books and movies, but is very well done here. Koli is our narrator, and his language is grammatically rough – something that I think might annoy some, but added to the veracity of the account, not least because the author carries it perfectly through the whole novel.

The story takes a few turns that I don’t think you could have seen coming from the beginning, and ends with so many more adventures ahead for Koli – I won’t spoil a thing, though. It might not have quite the punch of The Girl With All the Gifts, but as terrifying as this tree-stalked world is, I was totally caught up. I am *so* looking forward to the rest of the trilogy!

NetGalley eARC: 400 pages / 56 chapters
First published: April 16th 2020
Series: Rampart trilogy book 1
Read from 5th-15th April 2020

My rating: 9/10

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