The Quiet Earth - Craig Harrison


Genre: Sci-Fi/Fiction 
Synopsis: John Hobson, a geneticist, wakes one morning to find his watch stopped at 6.12. The streets are deserted, there are no signs of life or death anywhere, and every clock he finds has stopped: at 6.12. Is Hobson the last person left on the planet?
Inventive and suspenseful, The Quiet Earth is a confronting journey into the future, and a dark past.


Review: I flipped back and forth on this one as I was reading it. On the one hand, it is superbly written with extremely evocative turns of phrase, and rich in prose rather than dense, so it is a pleasure to read. On the other hand, said prose is about two things. Firstly, the occurence of a freak experimental event which has apparently caused the wiping out of almost all of mankind - according to our scientist narrator who explains the science behind it quite vaguely. And secondly, the emotional resonance of a traumatic event in his personal life that led to the breakdown of his family. The two (I felt) did not gel very well, and the net result was a book that teetered between sci-fi and psychological drama without ever falling into one category or the other.

As a massive fan of the film - the reason I wanted to read the book at all - my view of the book was always going to be biased. I do try to keep an open mind when it comes to the source material for adaptations, and vice versa, and I had heard that the novel was very different, but I wasn't prepared for just how different. Fundamentally, the movie removed all of the psychological drama aspects. It went full sci-fi, and in the process produced one of the greatest Last Man sequences I've ever seen. Had the book gone entirely in either direction, as the film did, I would have liked it much more.

As per the film, I quite liked the narrator, and I hated Api (I can't put my finger on why, he was just a very unappealing character for me). As for the girl... well, the way in which she's dealt with in the book is probably one of the few superior aspects of the book, in my opinion. I really loved that aspect. All in all, I'd say the book is worth reading for the curious fans of the film who want to read the source, and probably for a lot of people who haven't seen the film. But for me, as someone who loved the film, I was already too biased in a specific direction to be able to love the undecidedness of the book's genre, even with all the beautiful writing.

Rating: 3.5/5

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