The Oblivion Society by Marcus Alexander Hart

Thursday, January 28, 2010 2:56 PM By Simon , In ,

What would you do if you slept through the apocalypse? What if everything you knew about disaster survival came from old B-movies? What would you do if society as you know it suddenly became The Oblivion Society?

After an accidental nuclear war reduces civilization to a smoldering ruin, grocery clerk Vivian Gray joins a comically inept bunch of twentysomething survivors, and together they try to ride out Armageddon on little more than scavenged junk food and half-remembered pop culture.

When the contaminated atmosphere unleashes a menagerie of deadly atomic mutants, Vivian and her friends take to the interstate for a madcap cross-country road trip toward a distant sanctuary that may not, in the strictest sense of the word, exist. But can they get to safety before the toxins get to them?

What, my intimate chums, does one say about a book they've longed--nay, pined--for since it's publishing way back when? What would you expect me to say? That I was disappointed? Let down? Crushed?

My, my, if it's any of those things, you are one nihilistic bunch. In fact, this was one of the few times where months of anticipation did not waver my love of the final product (the other being Inglorious Basterds).

Let's sum up. After the great microwave malfunction in the sky hits just a few months short of the real Y2K, Vivian Oblivion, her theoretical Mad Max name which I like much better, wakes up in a military-grade humvee, and stumbles around until she finds her travel companions: Bobby, her fat, nerdboy twin brother, Erik, his 80s-obsessed best friend, Sherri, scary former coworker of Vivian, and sex-obsessed, wannabe-stud (and not in the endearing way) jock Trent. They make their way across America, in search of civilization.

Holy shit, this was funny. It was a bit more grim than the publisher lets on, but the apocolypse does that. From the very first chapter, a prologue explaining the ridiculous series of events that leads up to the end of the world. As they go on through the wasteland that was the US, they don't initially seem interested in doing anything but exchanging obscure pop culture references and trying to get laid.

So, okay, not all of them. Just Sherri, after a certain development in the middle, and Trent, the entire thing. Trent, by the way, is the closest to an actual antagonist in the book. I hated this dude so fucking much. He talks like the child of a 70s blaxploitation flick and an old The Ladies Man sketch, and everytime they were in danger, I was hoping he would get torn apart by rabid, mutated rats the size of a dog (well, yeah, there were those too.)

Besides him, I loved these characters. As the sister will no doubt tell you, there are two types of characters: ones that everybody says is smart, but never actually demonstrate why, and the type who everybody dismisses as dull, and then reveals themselves to be the smartest person in the room. Vivian is the latter, going from sarcastic supermarket boxer to smartest person left alive in one night. All the other characters start out as comic relief, then slowly flesh out.

My one complaint? They just had to put in a love story. I know, Hart's other books are heavy on that shit, but dude.

Oh, well. I could go on about plot, spoilers, whatever, but I think that's sufficient for my first full-length book review.