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The end is hear…
A mutant strain of meningitis has wiped out most of mankind. The few who have survived the fever are now deaf.
Bitter with loss and terrified to leave the city known as Cathedral, the inhabitants rely on The Samaritans, search teams sent out into the surrounding countryside. Their purpose, to hunt down and enslave the greatest commodity on Earth, an even smaller group of people immune to the virus, people who can still hear.
People like me.
My name is Chris.
This is my story.
The first thing to note about this book is how expertly Jeffery opens it. His first few pages introduce us to characters, the concept, and tease at the world that we’re delving into. It also opens up several questions – it certainly piqued my interest. Bacterial meningitus has wiped out most of humanity and rendered many of the survivors deaf. There’s a group called The Samaritans (who are apparently to be feared), and Chris, our protagonist, is a captive of a man called Crowley who can no longer hear, and keeps Chris prisoner simply because Chris was immune and did not lose his own hearing. Why doesn’t Chris just run away, or fight him? Because Crowley once blew out Chris’s kneecap, rendering him permanently troubled with his leg, and in need of a leg brace to get around.
I won’t spoil anything else about the plot but I have to tell you that if you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, this is a book for you. Honestly, it’s as good as any of the other wonderful, famous novels of the same genre-ilk out there. The idea that society has crumbled because of an infection, and those who are left have divided themselves into “non-hearing” and “hearing” is both simple and genius in its execution. This is a world in which things are considerably more dangerous and threatening to those who were fortunate enough not to be rendered deaf, and the fact that Jeffery even thought of this as a world-building factor just goes to show his understanding of people and how they think and behave in a crises.
I’d like to imagine that in the future, we’ll achieve a sort of Star Trek-like utopia, in which humanity has finally set aside our differences and banded together to take care of everyone. However, I strongly suspect that the plot of A Quiet Apocalypse, or something like it, is a far likelier – and unfortunate – outcome for our species. During 2020, I watched as the fear of a new and unpredictable virus split us (the whole of humanity) into disagreeable, suspicious, terrified, either nasty or silent camps. People with no real medical knowledge were ripping into their own friends and family over whether or not masks and vaccines were necessary or useful. People literally fought each other for toilet paper. In a bid to squash paranoia and fear, many became condescending keyboard warriors, desperate to have someone to blame, and above all, desperate to be right. For the most part, there was no banding together, no solidarity. It was every-man-for-himself-and-the-last-bottle-of-hand-sanitiser carnage out there. Nothing saddened me more than seeing people who were formerly the best of friends fall out permanently because both parties cared more about being right than about each other. Hearing “if you don’t wear a mask, I hope you get covid” or “haha you’re ill – shows how much use your vaccine was!” filled me with an almost existential despair because at the very least, I’d have hoped that no one would actually wish sickness on anyone. But people were wishing it, and mocking people when they fell ill, and it was because they thought it proved they were right all along, whichever side of the argument they sat on.
This book explores this element of the human psyche in a way that I found horrifying in its sincerity and its truth. No one that Chris encounters can really be trusted (by us, the reader), because the hearing are commonly taken hostage and then used by those who were rendered deaf, and Chris is himself viewed as a threat, especially by those who were already deaf before the outbreak (the reason for this is spine-chilling).
One of the best things about the book for me was the constant, oppressive atmosphere that ran throughout, wherever Chris went. Nothing ever felt safe. It gave me Gilead vibes (The Handmaid’s Tale), and there were also shades of Terminus from The Walking Dead. The tension was relentless at times, which made for one hell of a page-turning story.
And that ending. THAT ENDING.
This is a beautiful beast of a post-apocalyptic tale that comes out of the gate swinging, and never stops, even as it ends. If you enjoy books like Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”, Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend”, or especially Tim Lebbon’s “The Silence”, I whole-heartedly believe this would make an excellent addition to your book collection.
It’s currently less than £7 for a paperback, and the ridiculously low price of £2.51 for the Kindle version (or the sweet price of f*** all if you have Kindle Unlimited). If you want to enrich your life with your own copy, you can find it below:
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