Monday, March 9, 2020

The Raft by Fred Strydom

I'm going to be straight-up honest. I don't think The Raft by Fred Strydom quite worked for me. I've heard so much about the book, that it's amazing, and all that, but my feeling upon finishing the novel was that it could probably have had about a quarter of its content dropped on the cutting room floor and been a stronger novel for it.

If you're looking for a post-apocalyptic quest in a similar vein as kind of world you'd expect in The Last of Us, or The Walking Dead, sans the zombies, this is not that book, although there is an inner and outer journey–just not in any strict linear fashion. What we do have is a nested narrative filled with seemingly unconnected vignettes and a fair amount of existential dread.

So if something a bit more reflective and ambiguous in tale-telling is your thing, go for this book. This story will most likely speak to you then. I personally found it a little too loose, and taking just a little bit too long to reach a point. Reality is fluid, and it's difficult telling dream sequence apart from the actual happenings, to the point near the end that I was almost too afraid to trust anything the author laid down in the story. And who knows, maybe that was his intention. There's even a space where Strydom shifts to second person, instead of first, which just jarred me out of the story.

There were times where things got a little Event Horizon for me, so I suppose this is sufficiently SF, but even so, I do feel that the navel gazing Mr Kayle engages in kinda rubs the edges off the impact of the ending. The twist in the ending, when it came, wasn't wholly unexpected, and it had a pleasant sting. I just feel that we could have fewer twists and turns before we got there. Strydom can write, though, and he makes some great observations. I feel if The Raft is viewed in a more literary light, it stands a little straighter. But right now, lit-fic just isn't my jam.

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