Life on Earth is predicted to end on 15 July 2015. But the oncoming megatons of rock and ice break up shortly before impact. Now humanity must live in a world most believed would not exist. Across the planet, people are haunted by the future they did not fear, and even those who did not embrace death must face the consequences of others’ decisions.
I received a copy of this book from my online friend Taylor Lynn last summer and, when almost a year had gone by without me so much as peeking inside, I knew it was time to add it to my summer 2017 bucket list! I was extremely excited to read Fauxpocalypse not only because of its fascinating premise but because two of my blogging friends, Kate @ The Magic Violinist and Alex @ Alexandrina Brant, were published in the anthology.
I won’t be reviewing the first story (“Fauxpocalypse!”) because, as far as I could tell, it wasn’t part of the collection proper and was simply intended to introduce us to the situation at hand. But I will talk about all the rest, and at the end I’ll give my thoughts on the book as a whole.
Without further delay, here is my long-overdue review of Fauxpocalypse! Complete with a beginner’s attempts at #bookishphotography.
“July 16th” by Misha Burnett (3.5/5)
I was pleased to discover that the first story in this anthology focuses on the young woman who discovered the comet! As they flee the building where they spent the so-called last night on Earth getting blackout drunk, I came to realize that the stakes were higher for Katherine than they were for anyone else: After all, what will happen to her now that her finding caused panic, chaos, and mass violence all in anticipation of something that never came true?
“Vodka and Watermelons” by Debbie Manber Kupfer (1/5)
Ohhhh I wanted to like this story and I’m sorry to rate it so low when I enjoyed all the rest! But it just didn’t have a narrative arc. I’m actually a huge fan of character-driven, slice-of-life pieces, usually, but I think in order for them to work the readers have to spend plenty of time with the characters in question. This story didn’t have that: I never felt that I got to know the protagonist well enough to care about the minutiae of her life.
“Revelation” by Alexandrina Brant (3.5/5)
This story was cool because the main character’s point of view was so different from my own! It’s basically about a student who converts to Christianity as a result of her experiences on the morning after the comet didn’t hit. It really made me think because despite how the saying goes, I would be the atheist in a foxhole: I’ve made too many failed bargains with myself, my mental health, other people, et cetera to ever trust any more.
By far the longest story in this collection, “Returning Home” is set in rural Kansas, on a farm stocked with provisions and fortified for, quite literally, the end of the world. It strongly reminded me of my own childhood and adolescence in the Midwest. When I began the story I wasn’t a fan of the length and didn’t see how it would be able to keep me interested, but I soon realized that it needed to be that long in order to ramp up the suspense. I was an EMOTIONAL WRECK by the end!
“It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” by Kate I. Foley (3/5)
Funnily enough, my two friends’ stories couldn’t have been more different! This one was also about religion, but was far closer to my own experience since the protagonist is the only non-believer in a sea of the faithful. (Hellooooo, that was my life until I found secular homeschooling friends!) I just wish it had been a little longer because I loved the main character’s personality and wanted to get to know her better!
“No Good Deed” by Schevus Osborne (3/5)
The suburban version of “Returning Home,” perhaps? In this story, a father defends his family… in a conflict that he himself accidentally initiated. I don’t want to give away the twist at the end, but let me just say that I’m a big fan of stories about PEOPLE TAKING CARE OF PEOPLE, everyone. We all need to love each other more.
“Shoulders of Giants” by Dave Higgins (5/5)
It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly I enjoyed here – because there’s so much to love, I guess. The dialogue. The pacing. The fact that the two main characters are stuck in the International Space Station at the time the comet is predicted to hit (!!!). The camaraderie between the astronauts. The humor. The way the author avoided jargon-heavy description.
“After The Comet” by Adrian George Nicolae (4/5)
A brief, bizarre story about missed connections, a middle-aged couple with marital issues, and the horror and accidents that plague them. I have no idea where it was supposed to be set or how on Earth (pun totally intended) the author got the idea for this piece, which just added to my enjoyment of it.
Here, children in an isolated, intensely religious Australian town attempt to cope with news of the end, with varying levels of success. Every bit as good as “Shoulders of Giants,” but in a far more devastating way. And I’m so glad that it had Aboriginal rep!
“Alice” by Kim Plummer (3.5/5)
Although parts of this story confused me, I’m grateful that “Alice” was included in this collection because it was the only piece that really talked about mental illness. The protagonist definitely had depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, and I’m fairly certain she had OCD as well? It was hard not to see Alice Bailey as me and her struggles as my own.
Also, I loved the characters of Pauly and Ed.
“Thieves in the Night” by Dave Higgins (3.5/5)
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of living apart from the rest of humanity so this story, set on an English farm in an almost cult-like environment, naturally piqued my interest. While I don’t think it was quite as compelling and tightly-paced as Higgins’ earlier story, I liked the ambiguity throughout, as well as how the drama ramps up toward the very end.
“Full Moon” by Dacia Wilkinson (3.5/5)
How fitting that the final story in this collection takes place nine months after the comet is expected to strike Earth, as a new generation is born. In “Full Moon,” a man and a woman who met on the day the world was predicted to end navigate a hospital overwhelmed by a baby boom. The very last page or so is incredible.
I loved the wide variety of stories here. Different locations, different motives, different lives – both pre- and post-comet. No two stories were alike and it really made me think of just how differently we all perceive major events, even in a world where we are constantly and instantly connected to each other and to the news via the Internet. From the exact same writing prompt, everyone came up with something uniquely their own.
My biggest criticism of this book is the lack of line editing and copyediting. Some of the stories were entirely free of errors and confusing passages, or at least nearly so, but others were riddled with them to the point of distraction. With better editing, the overall quality of the stories would make this volume otherwise stand out. The stereotype of self-published books is that they’re full of typos and I have to say that in this case it was unfortunately true. I don’t want to dissuade you from reading the book, of course! But I felt that you should know. Perhaps it will someday be reprinted and the mistakes corrected.
All in all, I couldn’t be more pleased with my decision to add reading Fauxpocalypse to my summer 2017 bucket list, as it became a major part of my life during those months. My now exceedingly battered copy has traveled in my carry-on during a flight to Ireland and back, been toted around that country on various car/bus/train rides, bounced around in my purse for quick stolen moments of reading between errands back home, and more. Quite a well-traveled book! Really suits the far-flung settings and diverse viewpoints contained within. I recommend Fauxpocalypse to anyone interested supporting self-published books while enjoying dystopian fiction with a twist!