Man oh man, you sometimes go into a book believing that it's going to be one story, and at the end of the book you have to check the cover to make sure it was the same book you picked up. That's how I felt about Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky. It all started when I saw information for a video game under the same name: Metro 2033. It's a first-person shooter that they've based off of Dmitry's post-apocalyptic novel. The game has mutant killing and darkness as it's main selling points.... well, next to the fact that it's based off a novel. So, I based my purchase of the book on the fairly good reviews of gamers. At the time, I was very excited. By the end, not so much.
Metro 2033 starts with a great, if not unique, premise. World War 3 has happened. The United States attacked first through biological and nuclear means. Some of Russia's remaining military, in intact missile silos and submarines, take out their own prejudices and retaliate regardless of the fact that the world will be decimated beyond repair. The remaining civilization lives in the metro stations under Moscow. Enter Artyom, our protagonist, who's lived in the metro for all but three years of his life(give or take). He lives in a station/depot on the far end of the populated sections of the metro. They've started to be attacked by an unknown group of mutants from topside. Through a few different circumstances, Artyom is sent on a task that is the salvation of VDKnH(the station) and possibly the entire metro.
From the sound of my synopsis, it sounds like it would be passing out awesome to everyone it had the chance of meeting. It certainly didn't end up that way. The first twenty or so pages gave you a good feeling of the oppressiveness of living underground. It was dark, dirty, and without a lot of hope. I could pass by some of the odd sentence structure and dialogue. It didn't last though. The middle part of the book had a common theme through the protagonists journey from one side of the metro to the other. He would get in trouble somehow and be saved at the last moment through chance encounters. Every scene played out in a very similar way, and when you add the difficulty of the writing you're just drudging along waiting for some action. That didn't come around till the last 50 pages of the book. So he bookended his philosophical thoughts on just about everything between two action oriented short stories. And by everything, I mean everything. Here's a sampling of some of the ideas: The Great Worm(creating new religious thought), fascists, communists, Christianity(doesn't think too highly of it), mutants, zombies, Indians, hypnotism, hope for humanity, and great loss. It was disappointing.
I wouldn't say that all was lost. The last few pages before the ending were exciting enough to force myself to finish an incredibly tedious and difficult reading book. I had a feeling that's where it was leading when the book came to it's conclusion. I really can't recommend this book unless you're looking to finish up your "All Things Post-Apocalyptic" collection. Supposedly, a Metro 2034 is being written b/c the video game was a decent success.
Rating: 4 CBs - I'm being friendly to the first and the last portions of the book. You really have to be dedicated to sorting out all the conversation and endless plot elements. <-- In some authors that's a good thing, but in this one. meh. But, I did find a tie-in that I posted on my other blog: The Reliquiarium
P.S. - We just got done watching the The Book of Eli. Now that's a post-apocalyptic story that I can recommend. It's not perfect, but it's entertaining. ;-) Next up? Perhaps The Stand; maybe Same Kind of Different As Me; tempted by The Princess Bride.