Book review: To Thee is this World Given by Khel Milam

Every so often, an afternoon spent trawling aimlessly around the internet will turn up a rare gem. Last week’s discovery was a self-published  novella entitled To Thee is this World Given: a slow burner that spends a few days with a handful of people surviving the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse.

Yeah, I know, the internet is creaking under the weight of apocalyptica, but this one is a bit different. It’s very much character-driven, along the lines of Station Eleven which happens to be one of my favourite books. You won’t see zombies eating the lungs of their screaming victims (and yet they’re still screaming), or chiselled sweat-laden heroes dispatching the walking dead with pickaxes. If that’s your bag then this book may not be for you.

dfw-km-ttitwg-cover-small-e1431038739393But if you’re looking for a measured, well-written (and I have to say it’s very rare that you see such care and attention devoted to a self-published novel), philosophical perspective on the end of the world, then this is probably it. It’s a great study of people and how they come to justify what they need to do to survive. You soon come to realise that the zombies are not really the problem (they’re slow, not particularly bright, and so pretty easy to avoid); the real problem is the other survivors, and the limits you set yourself in order to be one of them. Oh, and infected cuts: they can kill you too.

The writing style is crisp and lyrical (I can’t be a hundred per cent sure, but I don’t think I saw a single dialogue tag); the author makes great use of the environment to build suspense. The pace is slow, but still gripping. Some of the phrasing became repetitive at times; you can get away with this in a longer piece, but something like that does stand out in a novella. Still, the book as a whole was a highly enjoyable, wonderfully smooth read.

Seven out of ten.


Mad Max was sort of . . . mad

Insane, actually.

This is part four in the Mad Max series, with Tom Hardy taking over the lead from Mel Gibson who last appeared as Max in Beyond Thunderdome (1985, believe it or not).

Nothing much has changed; Max is still the solitary road warrior, still haunted by the deaths of his wife and daughter, still surviving in a post-apocalyptic world where the human race has turned against itself in a battle for oil and water: the only commodities that have any worth.

It’s pretty grim stuff, and the great thing about it is that throughout the non-stop battles between cars and trucks (and I think we must have spent at least 70% of the film chasing around the desert), you were never left with the slightest notion that there was any real hope. The human race was heading for a slow exctinction, and nothing was going to change that.

So everything was just about surviving as long as you could before you were murdered for your car, or you died of hunger and thirst.

FURY ROAD (Image courtesy of IndieWire)

The action scenes were some of the very best I’ve seen. Savagely uncompromising and exhausting to watch.

Tom Hardy does a creditable job in the lead role. He does the moody, silent, slightly unhinged thing very well, so I think I would have been a lot more surprised if he’d made a mess of it.

Charlize Theron? Well, I’m always disappointed when I hear she’s been cast in any movie, and then I’m massively shocked at what a great actress she is. This is no exception. Not her greatest play, but a good performance nonetheless.

This is a great film, and if you’re into action flicks with a human touch then it’s well worth seeing. I’m going to give it eight out of ten, and I might actually go see it again.

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