I was recently assigned the review on this interesting and hard to classify post-apocalyptic, action adventure, scifi mystery novel called The Archivist from author Tom D. Wright, whom I was unfamiliar with. There are few terms more over used in book reviewing than ‘Couldn’t put it down’ and ‘A real page turner. Well this book was a real page turner and I couldn’t put it down. Those clichés out of the way let me tell you why…
The Archivist by Tom D. Wright
In 2052, Artificial Intelligence surpasses humans, and global technology collapses overnight. Thirty years later, primitive communities struggle to survive. Throughout this broken world, a secret organization called The Archives seeks to preserve what knowledge and technology has been left in the ashes. However, a Luddite cult-The Disciples of Earth-is just as determined to ensure there will be no technological rebirth for humankind.
From Evil Girlfriend Media
First of all from page one of The Archivist, the world that the story takes place in, Earth 2052 in the years following the collapse of society due to a robot rebellion of sorts, is a completely living, breathing, fully realized world that I instantly bought into. Every details is interwoven with other details to create a totally believable universe. No false notes anywhere in regard to this, it is actually almost spooky how credible the author’s vision of the post-apocalyptic society is. Religion, commerce, politics all just really spot on. In this world the only thing standing between humanity and a complete collapse are a group of scholar heroes akin to the Indiana Jones character in the movies known as Archivists. These men and women gather shreds of knowledge and scavenge old technology to both store it against the day the world is ready for it again and to guide the world to that day. They work as spies slash field agents moving undercover through a primitive society mostly unaware of their existence.
Which leads us to the characters, our protagonist is one such Archivist who left behind a wife and safe life in the Mars colony to help in the rebuilding of his home world. His name is K’Marr and the author takes the time to make him a believable character with a complex backstory and real human flaws and frailties instead of a heroic cardboard cutout. There is more than just a little old school Indiana Jones style swashbuckler to him but it seems to come natural and is never forced. He is on a basic retrieval mission that goes spectacularly awry leaving him cut off from his fellow agents and forced to rely on two civilian partners.
One is a fiery read headed woman name Danae he meets in a tavern while waiting for a contact that never arrives who also serves as the inevitable love interest in the story and the other is an old friend from past missions named Little Crow. This character is Native American and for a painful page or two I was worried that we were veering into the ‘Me Tonto’ school of stereotyping but the author manages to avoid it if just by a thin margin. I was also relieved that Danae is a strong female character who hold her own in a sometimes brutal world and not simply a helpless damsel in constant need of protection and rescuing. Without giving too much away the plot revolves around K’Marr trying to retrieve a valuable artifact of old technology from a techno-phobic religious order called The Disciples of the Earth who blame all such things on man’s fall from grace. They are in direct opposition to the Archivists and have been since the dark days of the initial disasters.
It isn’t anywhere near that simple of course or this book would not be so compulsively readable. There are wheels within wheels, double and triple crosses and multiple plot twists that I did not see coming. This was very refreshing for me as most of the books I read lately the author clearly telegraphs all the punches leaving little surprises to be had. I do also have to note that the pacing in this book was absolutely flawless, it could be used as a textbook example in a creative writing class on how to pace an action based novel. The author doles out the action in the perfect doses to never completely satisfy but keep the reader craving just a bit more leading to my use of the aforementioned clichés ‘Couldn’t put it down’ and a ‘Real page turner’
Cliché or not both of these statements, at least for this reviewer were completely true. I read this book in two sittings only putting it down because I had to totter off to bed to avoid total morning disasters due to sleep deprivation. There should be a warning label on this stating ‘Don’t make any Plans’
I am giving this highly entertaining novel Five Bananas and will be looking for more works by this talented author and while I look for those my ink stained skinny fingers will be crossed for a movie version of Mr. Wright’s The Archivist.