It’s the 23rd Century as determined by the human “common era.” The last human alive is writing his final memories. We follow the story of those that came before: 21st Century ecologist Zara Dimitrov leads a fateful charge into a new era of conservation; 22nd Century’s Mashechka McGuigan, whose father’s passing leaves her with the duty of the gravely important Mission for Earth; Patrick Nelson, who now records humanity’s final fall from grace at the end of our era. A warning for the future and an extrapolation of our present, Killing Juggernaut by Jared Bernard delivers an ecological ultimatum.
The cardinal issue with the book is that it has too much going on. As much as Nelson’s constant asides are probably accurate to a broken man desperately tearing through a documentation of human history, it makes for incredibly jarring reading and really needed another pass of editing to hit the right mid-point of believability and readability. This also comes to apply to the many different plot threads in the book that take the reader to, as the book touts, all different times and places across the world. As diverse and interesting as many of these stories are they’re also quite stodgy tales.
The book is pretty cool, nonetheless, making an ecological dooms-telling almost akin to Al Gore’s An Unfortunate Truth organically into an appealing fiction rather than a thinly-masked political screed as many others would stumble into doing. The characters stand out and there’s a lot to commend in their concepts and execution – of special note, the writing of the female cast is very rich to a standard all future writers should definitely be held to. The big let-down is that a lot of the writing is over-stuffed and would work so much better if cut down into a more lean and focused piece.
Another remarkable feature is the unique cover, which is clearly styled as if it were the actual journal of Nelson, complete with the weathering afforded to the scratched-up tome by the sea and the sand of the Sahara. It’s savage, it stands out, and it’s fairly effective at getting its point across. It’s not a cheap-and-easy design by any means. All said and done, however, it’s a bit plain and I feel like it’s missing a tiny something to make it truly eye-catching. Perhaps the simple lack of a by-line is tripping me up as a life-long reader(!)
Killing Juggernaut is a solid piece that really holds to a high standard against its peers in all dimensions. I do wish that the author had given the manuscript another trim before publishing as it’s the one, glaring point I cannot look past. It has a great idea, a wonderful delivery, and superb characters, and if you can handle that much it’s definitely worth a look, especially from other potential eco-warriors or even deniers who want to see what a simple fiction can do to your outlook on our planet, and beyond.
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