Review: Black Moon

Black Moon: A NovelBlack Moon: A Novel by Kenneth Calhoun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a story of an Insomnia Apocalypse which allows for a lyricism that its sister sub-genres, Zombie Apocalypse and Rage Apocalypse, don’t. The poetic quality to the fever-dream writing is beautiful and subject-appropriate.

They passed through the desolate university campus in two vans, skirting the edge of the campus, cutting through vast parking lots, rolling past the International Studies Center, the woolly, unkempt clover playing fields, the abandoned supercomputer and boxy student apartment complexes. The elephant-gray dorm towers jutted above the brittle eucalyptus fringe, and the school’s famous glass library, like a crystal hive perched on concrete pilings, flashed through the trees. When they took the narrow access road along the base of the structure, they found themselves fording a lumpy moraine of books that seemed to have been deposited by the receding glacial library.

What does not work is the indecision between being a cohesive novel or a collection of discrete vignettes from a common global apocalypse. The lacking senses of chronology and space distracts from being a novel. While some characters may be psychologically compromised, readers need to know where the towns and cities are in relation to each other. Events need to have an order to them. Major events should be shown first hand and not glossed over in secondary sentences. Repeatedly, climax scenes are left hanging and never picked up again–the characters jump time and space without adequate explanation of here to there. POVs drop off the grid without explanation at all.

But the writing is beautiful . . .

Before she was even able to drag a patio chair under the chimes and lift them off a nail, she heard another ringing out nearby.

Swimming through swirling currents of trash, she followed the sound as it drew her farther away, deeper into the maze of streets–the suburban labyrinth. She was lured by the wind into one cul-de-sac after another, one development, two, three, away from Felicia and her dreamless sleep, gathering chimes in a kind of midnight harvesting.

The wind eventually stripped the mask from her head and rolled it down the street. She chased after it, the chimes she had gathered ringing out like an alarm.

One sleeper, Matt Biggs, searches for his insomniac wife, Carolyn, and uncovers deeper secrets to their relationship . . . Chase pines for his ex, Felicia, as the insomnia he tries to outrun overtakes him. Feverishly awake, to turns back to find her . . . Felicia takes refuge in a Sleep Institute only to watch everyone succumb to the sleepless plague. Desperate measures are taken to reintroduce sleep, and Felicia volunteers . . . Lily, a sleeper, escapes from her enraged, sleepless parents. She wanders the desert towns in an owl mask, collecting wind chimes . . .

Like a collection of vignettes, the characters barely brush up against each other. There is no end game, only survival. Not all will make it.

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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