Written By: E.T. Gunnarsson
Published By: Bragi Press
Reviewed By: Melissa Minners
I was offered an opportunity to review a new post-apocalyptic novel on Netgalley, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. Then I really took a look at the cover on which we see the back of a young girl facing a smoke-filled mess of a world. What grabbed me was the stuffed bunny she was holding. It sort of reminded me of the young girl toting a beat up teddy bear observed by Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead…before he realizes she’s a zombie. For some reason, that cover made me want to read Forgive Us by E.T. Gunnarsson. It became my summer vacation read.
Forgive Us takes place in three separate time periods. We first meet Oliver, a young loner who lived in the United States just prior to the death of civilization as we know it. As the end of 2099 draws near, Oliver thinks about the apartment he once lived in and the downfall of mankind as he breathes through his gas mask, battling ever-present hunger, massive sandstorms and brainless, hungry mutants. Oliver eventually finds other survivors and a bunker they can call home. With these survivors, he tries to bring civilization back, but civilization and humanity are very different things.
In the year 2154, we meet London, a man traveling through the wastelands with his adoptive daughter Rose. London also remembers what it was like before the toxicity of a new energy source and the wars that plagued the nations destroyed the world. He patiently teaches Rose everything he knows about what once was. When they come across a newly formed nation of survivors, London believes he has finally found a safe haven for Rose, only to discover that he has unwittingly wandered into the middle of a war between two nations hell-bent on destroying one another.
In 2185, we meet Simon, a young tinkerer who preforms maintenance on a space station named Arcadis. Born and raised on the station, Simon has only heard and read stories about Earth and has always been told that it is inhabitable. Simon wonders if all that “The Leaders” tell him is true, but even asking the question risks bringing down punishment from The Peacekeepers of the station. As the oppression of the space station leaders grows, Simon becomes more and more dissatisfied with his home, but leaving the space station may actually spell out his doom.
As I began reading Forgive Us, it felt just a little familiar to me. The author must have been inspired by other great works like Mad Max, Logan’s Run and the like. Each of the main characters in this novel – from Oliver to London and Rose to Simon – become important to us and while we may not always root for them, we still feel a need to know what happens to them in the future. We also can’t help but wonder just what these characters have in common besides the wasteland they find themselves living in.
I loved the explanation as to how the world became a wasteland – how the greatest source of energy was discovered to also be the world’s greatest pollutant and how that fact was hidden from the world at large because it would be too costly for the powers that be to abandon it. I also love how electricity makes a great comeback later in the novel. There is another theme in this novel that can’t be missed – history is doomed to repeat itself. As the reader moves on through the novel, he will discover that those who haven’t really studied up on the history of what happened to the world before can be the biggest catalyst in this repetition of mistakes.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this novel for its descriptiveness, the clever backstories and the way the author was able to weave the paths of each of the main characters into one another, I do have a question: Why do folks in the 2100s sound as if they just walked out of an old western. Phrases like “I reckon I ought to” or “you varmint!” make me wonder if the creators of later nations could only find old gunslinger movies and books to entertain themselves and just began to talk like their favorite characters. Or maybe the Wild West made a comeback, because, as I said before, history is doomed to repeat itself.
That being said, I found Forgive Us to be quite an interesting read…one that makes the reader think and question the world today as well as one possible future of our world they are reading about. Definitely a novel worth checking out!