*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc The Book of Koli – Book 1 of the Rampart trilogy by M.R. Carey #Brainfluffbookreview #TheBookofKolibookreview

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I was delighted when Tammy of Books, Bones and Buffy mentioned on her excellent blog that this one was coming up – and even more thrilled when I was approved to read it. I’m a fan of Carey’s writing – see my reviews of The Girl with All the Gifts, The Boy on the Bridge and The Devil You Know, which is part of his wonderful Felix Castor urban fantasy series, when he was writing as Mike Carey.

BLURB: Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will. Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture beyond the walls. What he doesn’t know is – what happens when you aren’t given a choice?

I enjoyed Carey’s previous post-apocalyptic world – he is a master storyteller – but I loved this one even more. For starters, this time around we stay in Koli’s viewpoint throughout in first-person POV, which is always my favourite narrative mode anyway. And Koli is a lovely protagonist – a teenager in a small community facing a vicious world, where even the trees are trying to kill you… The narrative voice is just right, different enough from our everyday speech to remind us that we are in a different time – a time where education is spotty and syntax doesn’t matter – adding to the worldbuilding without being annoying. It’s a far trickier feat to pull off than Carey makes it look. It also didn’t hurt for this one to be based in England, rather than in the US, as place names I recognised helped me to envisage the landscape, though I’m very relieved the wildlife is completely different!

When everything starts to go wrong, I was still very much alongside Koli and willing him to be okay – I know Carey is capable of killing off much-loved characters – and found this one difficult to put down. The adventure that unspools is a solid delight. I particularly loved Monono, whose burbling, light-hearted input stopped the book descending into an unduly grim read. And I would like to reassure fans of TGWATG, that the tone of this one is far less bleak. I feel that reassurance is important, because right now I’m quite happy to escape into a challenging, difficult world – but I don’t want to be pulled down by it, and I’m guessing that I’m not the only one.

The ending nicely tied up the current adventure, but also left a dangling plotpoint to take the story onward. This is highly recommended for fans of post-apocalyptic adventures with enjoyable protagonists and a vividly, believable world. The ebook arc copy of The Book of Koli was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest opinion of the book.
10/10

14 responses »

  1. So glad you loved this! I’m beyond excited to get my hands on the next book😁 And I have plans to catch up with his Felix Castor series at some point.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed this! Sometimes I feel like that one single person in the world who didn’t love this book but I think it’s because it’s very different from his other stuff like Girl With All the Gifts, which tbh was more my speed.

    • And that’s entirely valid! While I love the narrative voice – particularly of the girl, the sheer unpredictability of the plot and the rawness of it, meant I found The Girl With All the Gifts quite a tense read. Though remarkable!

  3. You touched an important point where you stress that this is not such a bleak world as the one Carey created in his previous books, and the hint of hope at the end is a bright light indeed.
    I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as I did! 🙂

    • Oh I really did, Maddalena. I think it’s my favourite book that he’s written, by far. And wonderful news to hear that the next one is coming out in September:)).

  4. Glad you loved this one. I enjoyed it but I think my expectations were a bit off kilter. I think I was hoping for something a little more unusual somehow – not sure what exactly. And I enjoyed the first half more than the second half for some reason – I think I just enjoyed the village life and learning about how everything and everyone got on – I also really liked when Koli became nameless and was in the forest. I would still like to read no.2 to see where it goes next.
    Lynn 😀

    • Oh I absolutely loved this one! I particularly enjoyed the voice and the immersive nature of the viewpoint. I also thought including Monono was a very clever tactic, as if gave us insights into exactly how far along the world was, because it all went Pete Tong!

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