The Fever struck hard and fast, rising out of the slums and claiming victim after victim. At first, reports trickled across the wire in small segments relegated to the final seconds of the broadcast news. Lost among stories of failing economies and political bickering, few noticed what proved to be the birth pangs of a monster. Within months, the disease dominated the news as thousands died and infection rates soared.
William Hill knew his chances of avoiding the virus sat squarely between slim and none. With experts predicting a global pandemic, his choices boiled down to not if, but where he would die. While the rest of the world built barricades and set up distribution points for food, he chose a simpler end. The island had been one of the last and best times with his father. He couldn’t think of a better place to spend his final days.
He wanted sun and sand, fresh fish on the grill and cool nights by the campfire. He wanted feel-good days filled with oldies on the radio, days when he could hoist the sails and run before the wind. He didn’t set out to make enemies, but he did. He didn’t plan on becoming humanity’s last hope for survival, or watching over an old woman and an eerie little boy either.
To William Hill, the island seemed as good a place as any to die.
He just didn’t realize how good.
The Island (Fallen Earth) is the first part of five that dominate the kindle best seller list. It is a quick read, more of a novella than a fully-fledged novel, and over the course of the story very little happens. That’s not to say it is badly written; far from it, the descriptions are rich and appear to be accurate, it’s just for an introductory segment of a wider story it does little to entice the reader to further exploration other than some cryptic hints at fantastical elements that lurk somewhere in the next volume.
Part one sees an introduction to “The Fever”, a plague that is wiping out civilisation, and William Hill, our fatalist protagonist concerned with spending his final days in peace. Along the way we are introduced to several characters that I assume will become principle protagonists / antagonists as the story develops, but as of yet they are merely incidental.
My main problem with this book is that it is split into five, with a financial charge to read the final two. If each part stood on its own feet I wouldn’t have a problem, but seeing as how the story was clearly just sliced into five parts with little concern for the flow, I can’t get past the fact that I’m being sucked into a marketing trick. Part one is only part one for the sake of being able to charge for parts four and five. There is no other reason for cutting the book up as Stark has done.
It may sound like I’m being negative about The Island, but I truly am not. The writing is competent and flows along at a good pace. It’s just a shame that it ended where it did. I may move onto part two, but am a little jaded by the manipulation.
Michael Stark has delivered his fantasy story in five parts, and if a ‘try before you buy’ approach suits you, then give this taster a go. Part one concerns itself with the calm before the storm which fans of The Stand should be familiar with.