Customer Reviews for

Soft Apocalypse

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

38 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

Going to Hell in a Handbasket: Will McIntosh's Debut Novel an Apocalyptic Fiction Tour de Force

Apocalyptic fiction fans looking for the next big read need look no further than Soft Apocalypse, the stellar debut novel from Will McIntosh. (For those of you not yet familiar with McIntosh - a psychology professor at Georgia Southern University - he is a supremely tal...
Apocalyptic fiction fans looking for the next big read need look no further than Soft Apocalypse, the stellar debut novel from Will McIntosh. (For those of you not yet familiar with McIntosh - a psychology professor at Georgia Southern University - he is a supremely talented young writer, having already written some exceptional short fiction, including the Hugo Award winning "Bridesicle.")

Many apocalyptic novels are set in a world devastated by a sudden, unexpected cataclysm - a nuclear war, a meteor strike, a pandemic, etc. - but McIntosh's end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it is decidedly soft. Set in and around a near-future Savannah, Georgia, the end of humanity arrives slowly, almost unnoticed by a populace too preoccupied by surviving in an America beleaguered by an almost 60 percent unemployment rate, frequent blackouts, water shortages, eco-terrorism, etc.

The story is narrated by Jasper, a destitute college graduate (sociology major) who is having a difficult time coming to grips with his radically changing environment. (".we're not homeless, we're nomads.") Living on the streets with his tribe of college-educated contemporaries, Jasper is more concerned with finding a girlfriend than in plotting a course for his long-term survival.

Written in a series of vignettes, Soft Apocalypse follows Jasper as he and his tribemates navigate a world slowly but surely going to Hell in a handbasket. After he finds work in a convenience store and gets a place to live, Jasper continues to slip back into his pre-Decline mindset, fixated with finding someone to share his life with. And the question persists: "What does love look like when the world is falling apart?"

But finally, after a decade of living in a kind of existential denial, Jasper finally sees his reality for what it is - and with the world literally falling apart, he must make some brutal decisions about his future.

The reason I loved this book is because I can so easily envision this happening - millions of people at home playing Xbox or getting high or obsessively watching reality television totally apathetic about the future of humankind. Who cares about the budget deficit or that the Middle East is on the brink of a bloodbath of biblical proportions, Jersey Shore is on! McIntosh's vision of the future is so compelling because it's narrative seeds are firmed planted in reality.

The thematic undercurrents and overall tone of McIntosh's debut are very much reminiscent of another apocalyptic novel, Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s classic A Canticle for Leibowitz:

"What do we need to survive? We don't need more hands, or two heads, or to fly. We need to be healed. Our violence, our sadness, our loneliness, our fear. they are a sickness that is killing us."

Replete with extraordinary post-apocalyptic images (dogs pulling the skeleton of a car with a cardboard Taxi sign taped on the front) and provocative subject matter (a virus causing euphoria called Doctor Happy, bioengineered bamboo forests, etc.), McIntosh's debut is a distinctly unique apocalyptic novel - with an equally unique ending that is ripe for speculation and/or discussion.

Bottom line: If Soft Apocalypse isn't nominated for a Hugo or Nebula Award, I will eat the entire book page by page.

posted by paulgoatallen on April 29, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

21 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

Just couldn't get into it

My version is an ebook. I got this as free Friday read from Barnes and Noble and didn't even make it 100 pages. Most of those pages I skipped. Finally gave up when one of the sicker bastards turned a woman's dog into a bomb, got infected with a Happy Virus and gave t...
My version is an ebook. I got this as free Friday read from Barnes and Noble and didn't even make it 100 pages. Most of those pages I skipped. Finally gave up when one of the sicker bastards turned a woman's dog into a bomb, got infected with a Happy Virus and gave the same woman a puppy.

I love apocalypse and disaster films and books but the characters need to be engaging. If after almost 100 pages I wasn't sympathetic to the 1st person narrator's, Jasper, POV I know I was going to get there.

The actual writing was good, the idea is awesome, editing was good but in the end it just wasn't for me. Might work for someone else and maybe it gets better but I didn't care enough about the characters or the story to hang in there and find out.

posted by Galora_K on April 30, 2011

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  • Posted April 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Going to Hell in a Handbasket: Will McIntosh's Debut Novel an Apocalyptic Fiction Tour de Force

    Apocalyptic fiction fans looking for the next big read need look no further than Soft Apocalypse, the stellar debut novel from Will McIntosh. (For those of you not yet familiar with McIntosh - a psychology professor at Georgia Southern University - he is a supremely talented young writer, having already written some exceptional short fiction, including the Hugo Award winning "Bridesicle.")

    Many apocalyptic novels are set in a world devastated by a sudden, unexpected cataclysm - a nuclear war, a meteor strike, a pandemic, etc. - but McIntosh's end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it is decidedly soft. Set in and around a near-future Savannah, Georgia, the end of humanity arrives slowly, almost unnoticed by a populace too preoccupied by surviving in an America beleaguered by an almost 60 percent unemployment rate, frequent blackouts, water shortages, eco-terrorism, etc.

    The story is narrated by Jasper, a destitute college graduate (sociology major) who is having a difficult time coming to grips with his radically changing environment. (".we're not homeless, we're nomads.") Living on the streets with his tribe of college-educated contemporaries, Jasper is more concerned with finding a girlfriend than in plotting a course for his long-term survival.

    Written in a series of vignettes, Soft Apocalypse follows Jasper as he and his tribemates navigate a world slowly but surely going to Hell in a handbasket. After he finds work in a convenience store and gets a place to live, Jasper continues to slip back into his pre-Decline mindset, fixated with finding someone to share his life with. And the question persists: "What does love look like when the world is falling apart?"

    But finally, after a decade of living in a kind of existential denial, Jasper finally sees his reality for what it is - and with the world literally falling apart, he must make some brutal decisions about his future.

    The reason I loved this book is because I can so easily envision this happening - millions of people at home playing Xbox or getting high or obsessively watching reality television totally apathetic about the future of humankind. Who cares about the budget deficit or that the Middle East is on the brink of a bloodbath of biblical proportions, Jersey Shore is on! McIntosh's vision of the future is so compelling because it's narrative seeds are firmed planted in reality.

    The thematic undercurrents and overall tone of McIntosh's debut are very much reminiscent of another apocalyptic novel, Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s classic A Canticle for Leibowitz:

    "What do we need to survive? We don't need more hands, or two heads, or to fly. We need to be healed. Our violence, our sadness, our loneliness, our fear. they are a sickness that is killing us."

    Replete with extraordinary post-apocalyptic images (dogs pulling the skeleton of a car with a cardboard Taxi sign taped on the front) and provocative subject matter (a virus causing euphoria called Doctor Happy, bioengineered bamboo forests, etc.), McIntosh's debut is a distinctly unique apocalyptic novel - with an equally unique ending that is ripe for speculation and/or discussion.

    Bottom line: If Soft Apocalypse isn't nominated for a Hugo or Nebula Award, I will eat the entire book page by page.

    38 out of 39 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Just couldn't get into it

    My version is an ebook. I got this as free Friday read from Barnes and Noble and didn't even make it 100 pages. Most of those pages I skipped. Finally gave up when one of the sicker bastards turned a woman's dog into a bomb, got infected with a Happy Virus and gave the same woman a puppy.

    I love apocalypse and disaster films and books but the characters need to be engaging. If after almost 100 pages I wasn't sympathetic to the 1st person narrator's, Jasper, POV I know I was going to get there.

    The actual writing was good, the idea is awesome, editing was good but in the end it just wasn't for me. Might work for someone else and maybe it gets better but I didn't care enough about the characters or the story to hang in there and find out.

    21 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 29, 2011

    finding love in an apocalyptic wasteland is even harder than it sounds...

    2 chapters in and I had to put my nook down to write this review. if you liked AMC's epic series The Walking Dead, you should download this right now and start reading. While not a zombie story exactly there are some flesh eating viruses and scarier diseases popping up all over the place and the world has become a generally scary place. All in all this is a romance set in a wasteland but it's the first fictional book I've had the patience to read in 10 years. There is drama, suspense,comedy,horror,love,hate,hope and despair in this story and I've only just finished chapter 2! It has a nice quick pace to it and I actually stopped breathing and could feel my chest pounding with anticipation during a particularly tense scene starting on page 26. bottom line? DOWNLOAD THIS BOOK!! FYI this review is written from the perspective of a 30 year old male IT worker from upstate NY. I would give this a NC17 rating if it were a movie. hope this this helps someone... back to my nook =)

    19 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2011

    Not with a bang but a whimper, indeed

    Fantastically dark. One of the best-imagined end-of-the-world scenarios I've ever read. The slow disintegration of society and humanity rings so true, I kind of want to go out and start learning some survivalist skills. And yet, it's not all doom and despair. There are bright points throughout. I couldn't put this down. I have the feeling I'll be thinking on it for a while.

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 29, 2011

    Great

    This book is more than good at free. It is worth like ten dollars! It iis worth it to buy this book, it is a great book, and worth it!

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hard to read if you basically like other humans

    So far, so good. It's hard to say I "like" this book. Let me explain that. I love the characters, I love the setting (Savannah, GA - a rockin' town where my aunt lives!) and generally I like end-of-the-world stories. But precisely BECAUSE I like the people in this book and I love Savannah, it's kind of depressing to read how bad the world has gotten. Also, it's all too possible that this is our future. Stuff like this is why I usually read more than one book at the same time. One scary book, one funny book; or one sad book, one uplifting book, etc.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 4, 2011

    thoroughly thought-provoking; a tough but highly worthwhile read

    As other reviewers have noted, this is not always an easy read and is a bit uneven at times. However, those caveats aside, I found this book to be powerful, believable, and exceedingly thought-provoking. The author makes a good case (IMO) for the breakdown of society given limited resources, increasingly unsustainable overpopulation, inevitably escalated conflict between the HAVE and the HAVE-NOT classes, inflamed prejudices against perceived "less-than" groups of people who have been forced into a nomadic existence, the capriciousness of mob mentality, and the overreaction of military might directed by a disintegrating political structure. This is a stunning novel, seeded with only-too-real possibilities that await societal breakdown, should our current version of "civilization" spin out of control. I hope there is a sequel, and SOON!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2011

    Very good read

    This book is not your typical apocalypse story.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2011

    Garbage In, Garbage Out

    Deleted after 13 pages, couldn't get past all the trash words and sexual inuendos. Couldn't even get past them to even get to a story line. As far as I am concerned I don't want to put all that garbage in my mind. Garbage In, then Garbage comes out. Just give me a good clean wholesome book with a great story line. Would not recommend to anyone that I know. Will avoid anything from this author and would definitely not recommend for a book club discussion, because anyone who would like to read this stuff wouldn't be anyone I would like a discussion with.

    4 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2011

    Skip it

    Don't care for all the bad words in it.

    4 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    No 1984 but good

    If you like the lead to be a hero this is NOT for you. Depressing and gloomy but in a strange way intresting.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2011

    Highly entertaining...and plausible

    Sometimes, the best things in life are free. This Free Friday book for example. In the infinite possiblities of how mankind will fare, Will McIntosh has brought a good possibility into sharp focus. Some of his imaginings may even come to pass - let's just hope they don't!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Heart breaking and eye opening

    The story line literally scared me because i can totally imigane this. A must read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 8, 2011

    Thought provoking, grabbed my attention right away.

    If you liked reading Earth Abides, The Road you will find this book even better. I could picture my co-workers , neighbors in these characters. Just regular people trying to live their life, not JUST survive as civilization crumbles. I noticed some people complaining that the story was "grim" or " foul language was used". Indeed this book is not a romance novel or fun romp, but if you like this type of story it is FANTASTIC.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2011

    Enjoyed it!

    Good read. Really enjoyed it. Not smutty. Not hard to read, but not written for children, either. Lots of good concepts and leaves you with something to think about.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2011

    A nightmare that is all too possible

    Will McIntosh provides a glimpse into a world of the future. The world he pictures in Soft Apocalype is one that we are creating for ourselves and our children now. Read it and weep. Or better, do something about it!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2011

    A surprisingly good read.

    The world ends in a whimper. This is a fresh, and I think realistic, take on apocalyptic literature. The writing is great. The charaters are interesting, drawing you into the story and making your concerned for their well being. The concept is horrific and compeling. This is a quick read, and well worth the time if you like apocalyptic type stories.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2011

    EXCELLENT READ, makes you think...

    This was a very good read for me, I would have paid for this one! I would and have, recommended this one to friends and family. It does make you think...whether that's good or bad, is for you to decide, it is free after all...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 3, 2011

    Great Read

    I enjoyed this read. Im not a big SciFI fan but, this had a touch of realism to it. It kept me engaged and I looked forward to picking up where I had left off.
    I do feel it had me feeling melancholic from time to time. I think a good book should have an effect on your feelings.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    Intense, Engrossing, and Terrifyingly Plausible

    Setting aside the fact that 2023 may be a bit early for designer viruses), Soft Apocalypse is frighteningly plausible, telling the tale of a world going out with a whimper, not a bang.

    Character relationships and the main character's love life are central to this book, since if the world's falling to pieces around you, it's really easy to collapse your desires to 'don't die' and 'have someone to love.' McIntosh's knowledge of Savannah gives the book a distinct flavor.

    The book is short, but it reads fast, with strong pacing and complex characters. My money puts this as a Hugo/Nebula contender for the 2011 season.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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