Synopsis: Psychologist Billy Carrington lives in a futuristic version of United States. A virus is sweeping the nation, and Billy is quarantined at the hospital where he works. When he wakes up from a nap, he discovers all human activity has ceased, and every person vanished. He embarks on a cross country journey to discover what has happened, where everyone has gone, and to analyze the zeitgeist of his era.
You may not have heard of Babak Govan before, but now that you have, his name is one to remember. Govan has written numerous short stories, and A-Void is his first published novel.
And what a novel it is.
With the paperback edition only hitting around 145 pages, A-Void is short and the writing is fairly easy to read. That being said, when I was about halfway through I realized that I really had no idea what was going on. If you aren’t familiar with modern and postmodern lit theory, this could potentially be intimidating. However, if you give it a chance, there is a lot going on beneath the surface which shows up as the story progresses.
In addition to being thoroughly in the vein of modernism/postmodernism, A-Void is grade-A post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction. Think of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, throw in some of Ray Bradbury’s philosophical bent, add Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave for context, and A-Void fits perfectly. From the intricately crafted world to the timely social commentary regarding the West’s obsession with technology, everything within this book is relevant and deeply interesting. Although it was only published a few months ago, I would not be surprised to see this book on a college syllabus within my lifetime, for a literature class discussing portrayals of the end of the world, the dangers of exponential technological discovery, or postmodern literature as a whole. It is a wonderful example of creating meaningful dialogue about real issues while maintaining an engaging story.
As Billy drives across the country searching for answers, he uncovers a concerning reality which could evolve from our current state of affairs. He wrestles with questions regarding the heart of humanity, and his musings lead the reader to consider their own stance on certain social, economic, and political topics.
To the average reader, this book will probably seem confusing. It takes a while to figure out where the story is going, how the structure works, and how the timeline fits together. However, if you have studied literary theory at any level, or are familiar with general qualities of postmodern literature, then there is so much to be appreciated in A-Void.
Reading back over the past few paragraphs, I must acknowledge that I have not said a lot about what actually takes place. Due to the short length and structure of the book, it would be difficult (if not impossible) to describe more of the action without giving away too much. In order to get the full value, you need to read this without knowing what happens to Billy, other than he goes on a journey to discover what has happened when humanity appears to vanish. A good book always takes the reader on a journey; Govan takes the reader on one that is extraordinarily insightful and thought-provoking.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who believes they are conscious of the potential downfalls of modern civilization. Additionally, I recommend researching various literary theories, either by taking a class on the topic or through individual reading. It will introduce you to history, patterns, and insight into the world around you and in everything you read which you never noticed. However, don’t be discouraged from reading this book or others like it just because you do not have a background in literary theory. Be prepared to take it slow and for some, maybe even a lot, of the information to go over your head. It takes time to become accustomed to reading something penned through a different lens, but it is not impossible and absolutely worthwhile.
The Kindle ebook of A-Void was published on March 14, 2018. The hard copy and all other digital versions are set to release on June 13th.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.