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Book Review

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The Waste Land Saga


Author: Nick Cole
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £9.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 749087 5
Publication Date: 15 October 2013

Decades after bombs fell reducing the world to a veritable wasteland, people eke out a subsistence living savaging junk which has survived the war. The old man has scavenged so long that memories of his past have started to fail. When he accidentally brings a hot radio back to the village he becomes an outcast, in response the old man sets off into the wasteland with only a Hemmingway book as companion, in search of himself and his future...

The Wasteland Saga (661 pages. Paperback), written by Nick Cole, is a collection of three books, The Old Man and the Wasteland, The Savage Boy and The Road is a River. Cole has taken Hemmingway’s, The Old Man and The Sea as both inspiration and jumping off point as this is the book which the old man carries and with whom he has an internal dialogue.

It’s fair to say that anyone who enjoyed The Book of Eli or The Road is going to feel right at home here. The first book concerns mostly the old man’s journey through the wasteland, like Hemmingway’s hero this is a journey of resilience and survival as the old man travels the destroyed south west of what remains of America.

In the second book the focus turns towards a young boy who is ordered to travel to California, through a violent and savage land. Compared to the first book, The Savage Boy is a much darker and violent tale.

The old man returns for the final book with his granddaughter to rescue trapped survivors at NORAD, along the way they are joined by a young man. The trio have to contend with a world becoming more savage with the passing of time.

There was only one thing which put me off this impressive trilogy and that was the effective referencing to The Old Man and the Sea. For those of you who haven’t read the novella you may want to before you read the trilogy, it would certainly increase your enjoyment and understanding of the first book. Unfortunately I had to study it at school; it took me one evening to read and a mind numbing six months for the class to work through. It’s a great story, but I never felt the same about it again.

Like Hemmingway, Cole injects a lot of honest humanity into his characters, which makes the trilogy stand out from a genre usually more interested in chronicling the violence and desolation of a post-apocalyptic world.

The book's introspection may not be to everyone’s taste, but Cole creates a compelling vision of survival in a world where survival is the best that the world can offer.


Charles Packer

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