Audiobook Review: The Death of Grass by John Christopher

30 03 2011

The Death of Grass by John Christopher

Read by William Gaminara

Audible Frontiers

Genre: Post Apocalyptic Fiction

Quick Thought: A Brutal vision of Post Apocalyptic England.

Grade: B-

A few years back, I began a hunt for the classics of Post Apocalyptic Fiction. I spent time searching used book stores, hunting through Abebooks and genre websites to try to compile a list of essential Post Apocalyptic Novels, and purchase them. I did a pretty decent job, finding classic editions of The Day of the Triffids, and A Canticle for Leibowitz. I read modern Day literary Post Apocalyptic Novels like The Road, and The Pesthouse. I jumped on classic science fiction apocalyptic novels like Lucifer’s Hammer, and Farnham’s Freehold. All told, I have read well over 100 Post Apocalyptic novels. Yet, the one novel I was never able to track down was The Death of Grass by John Christopher, considered by many to be a classic of the subgenre. So, when I discovered that Audible Frontiers released an audiobook version of the novel, I was ecstatic. Here was a chance to add another notch in my belt as far Post Apocalyptic novels go.

People often ask me why I love these types of novels. Yeah, I am intrigued by the breakdown of society. How people will react when the worst is upon them. I am fascinated by what new societies can pop up after the main social structure has been destroyed. Yes, these novels can be dark, and full of the worst types of human savagery possible, but you can also often find hope from them, I know people often criticize the Cozy Catastrophe concept, where people can rise from the ashes and create something better, but, at the very least, I am intrigued by the process of creating a new social order. Often times, you see a group of people who are trying to overcome, to not change their essential morality. While others may embrace wanton destruction, self centeredness, and moral ambiguity, these people will fight to uphold what they believe is truly human. This you will not find in No Blade of Grass. John Christopher has offered us one of the more brutal looks at the breakdown of civilization. Our groups of travelers do what they believe is necessary to survive, and it’s not always nice. While Christopher’s outlook on the survivors of such a tragedy may be more accurate than a lot of other more uplifting tales, it is often hard to digest. There are no heroes in this world, and very little hope. Not to say that this isn’t an essential read for fans of post apocalyptic fiction, just don’t expect to feel good by the end of the book.

William Gaminara is the narrator of the novel. Personally, I find it hard to judge British narrators. Sometimes, I really enjoy them, and others, well, there are just there. I cannot give you a technical reasoning behind it, but Gaminara falls into the second category. There was nothing wrong with the narration, yet, I don’t think he added anything special to the mix as well. He was clear and concise, and you could follow him well, but he often came of as emotionally stilted. I think that a narrator could have brought more life to this tale, especially at the few parts where the novel sort of dragged. One word of warning, there is a introduction before the novel that contains some plot spoilers, my suggestions is to fast forward through it, then listen to it when you have completed the novel.

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