This year, according to the Mayan Calendar, is the year that the world as we know it will end. I have friends who believe this, they maxed took out credit cards and have charged them up. They took the idea of a bucket list a bit far and have been going nuts making sure their bucket is empty before the end is here. Some have even quit their jobs. Insanity? Perhaps, but perhaps some truth to the world ending as we know it. Perhaps like the Tarot card, Death, it does not mean someone will die but it can mean some aspect associated with their life will die. Whether it is a job, or a relationship or their pet plant Robert, 9 out of 10 times it has nothing to do with an actual life ending. Perhaps this will be the year that Mother Earth answers all the atrocities we have broached upon her crust. The landfills, the pollution, the clear cutting of our majestic forests. Our basically taking for granted of this incredible planet. Living in Alaska I have had a slap in the face and we live as green as we can or I have guilt ridden anxiety attacks when I see an aluminum can in the trash.
What if something happened? What if a plague sweeps over us and killing off more 99% of the population? What would happen to the survivors? When the charge is gone from their iPod’s, the prepared food runs out and they forced to rebuild with the lack of survival skills and ability to milk a cow or plant a crop!
Charlinder’s Walk is a story that asks a few of these questions. It explores sociological, religious, cultural and even genetic implications of just such a thing happening. Alison Mier’s writing really wraps you up in the questions surrounding these what if’s. The world in this alternative history of planet earth ended in 2012 and by 2030 the implications of this pandemic were beginning to come to a head in a small village called Paleola. The Faithful (equivalent to bible thumping non-Christlike Christians who have nothing better to do than force their beliefs down other’s throats) are starting to stir and the large group of agnostics in the village are starting to feel the burn of their fire and brimstone.
Charlinder’s village maintains a society where the brother’s raise their sister’s children. Paternity is not an issue, though the village infirmary tracks it to maintain purity in the genetics, it has never been a focus of their internal society. Women are encouraged to go bed people from other villages and other families, it is a matter of having babies and making sure the gene pool has large chain of code to choose from. From a sociological perspective it is one of the most ideal societies that could have risen from the ashes of 2012. But most of the Paleolans have never been outside 10 miles away from the village. They spin their cloth, they churn their butter, the milk their ewes and eat soybeans with joy (that takes a LOT in my opinion).
One reason for the openness of the villagers are blessed with the journals of a first generation survivor who butted heads with the Faithful of 2012, who saw the logic in science. Those who know realized then necessity of learning the pre-technological modern world skills needed to live through the first winter and start rebuilding amid the ruins of the planet. These journals happen to birth of many of these questions helped raise the villager’s teacher. Reading the book we get to have a peek at the society immediately post plague and are able to compare it to with life is like 118 years later.
So what happens when this young teacher starts to worry the Faithful will ignore not only the biological implications but also of cultural eruptions of hate within such a tight-knit family/village. That they will stir up hate and discontent that will split this loving and supportive community down the middle. The questions that the journals have built up in him for years and the question that the Faithful are pushing on everyone to believe that God punished us and brought about the plague. But as the author points out within the pages of Eileen’s journal:
There is no burden of proof on choosing God as an answer in the first place, no evidence required for defending Him as your position, and no way to rule Him out of the equation in the end. He is the quickest and easiest way to be right at the beginning, without carrying the risk of ever being proven wrong.”
Wise words to remember when trying to look for the answers to questions no one answers too. Charlinder needs these answers not only for himself but for the continued harmony of the community. A sudden realization of the necessity of the answer to the questions becomes clear when seeing the anger from someone he may have some religious issues with, but who is still part of his family, his community. In this instance he makes a decision, to go find the answer to the plague. There are not boats, there are no planes, he cannot speak anything but American English but he has two legs and he can walk, and walk he does, all the way to Italy.
I am giving this book FIVE stars on the writing and complexity of a tale that flows so well and so beautifully. For the different voices that spoke to me and I could hear. For poetic beauty she wove throughout the book. From a personal rating, I am giving it THREE, not because it is not a good book, it is amazingly written. As stated, the story is well constructed. the cultural questions, religious questions and all the sociological implications are spot on. My reasons are exactly that, just like my religion. Many things rubbed me wrong, and it mainly was the religious thing, so you can ignore me and take a four star rating to the bank. (**see below for my explanation of why I have an issues.) SO overall this book gets FOUR stars, or moose tracks - trying out a new rating system!)
I recommend this read to anyone who wants a really good thought provoking read. I would recommend this for a book club read because I spent hours talking about this with my fiance. I would recommend this to my elder children to read and question. I would recommend this to people who have no hang-ups like me because it really is one heck of a book. I would not recommend this book to any of my rabid pagan friends. I would not let anyone young read it because the sex scenes are just to graphic. Necessary to the story for sure but much and to graphic for a young adult read. It is well worth the cost of either paper back or ebook. Fair warning however, this is not a weekend read. This is a book that makes you think all 400+ pages of it. The only thing I would add to the book is a book club guide because as stated above this is a great book club book. Hmm maybe I should write one!
I want to also give props to author on Charlinder’s Alaska visit. Choosing the Yup’ik was a bold move. They traditionally are seal hunters and though they also hunt Walrus seals are their main traditional and most revered animal for the hunt are seals, which is their main festival. As an Alaskan I found this very interesting and well played out on Alyson’s part. Just as with any society and culture on earth, they will have adapted also. Reality is the Yup’ik tribe is in the Bering Bay area so they were where they belonged, the walruses are down there too. These days there are walrus hunts, so I was pretty impressed. Most people call the Native Alaskan’s Eskimos and move along. The Yup’ik are actually a Eskimo tribe!
**Here are my religious hang ups if you are interested. Many reviewers have stated they liked how religion was not pushed into their faces, however I beg to differ, and I do not think this is on the author AT ALL. This is an implication and reality of today. Creationists have a thing called Intelligent Design. They are argue as many others in the past that scientists actually do believe in something, the religion of science. Religious faith is an emotional based response to belief and belief is fallible. Therefor science is not is and cannot be called a belief. I call bull. AGAIN this has nothing to do with the author! Science is based on empirical evidence, there is a burden of proof involved. I was raised to believe in evolution, by Christian parents who knew the cultural truths about Mary and Joseph’s society where the only answer to living would be a virgin birth. I am a proud pagan woman who is an ordained Priestess, who has ministered and married many and who tries being as culturally aware as possible and even I can get sucked into this argument and was shocked, so AGAIN kudos to how well written this book is.
?Of course I understand your frustration with the Faithful,” she responded, with eyes glowing, “but insisting that everyone follow your non-belief in God is still dogmatic.”
>i>This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the author for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone. This is a Novel Publicity Tour review.