As this is the third book in Joshua Gayou’s Commune Series, I thought I’d take a look back at my reviews of the first two installments. Of the first book I said it was an “excellent first book by a new author.” By the second book, I had dropped the “by a new author” caveat and said that it was simply remarkable. And now, with Commune Book 3, I can faithfully say it is extraordinary. And I’ll add that I believe it is on par with some of the best writers I’ve read, and easily surpasses just about anything else I’ve ever read in the post-apacolyptic genre.
That was a long-winded way of saying C3 is the best one so far. In this one, Mr. Gayou shakes things up a bit with a shift in perspective, switching to third-person narrative versus the multiple-POV first person format of the first two books. It’s immediately evident why he has done so. The story world has expanded, to include narrative threads from people and groups beyond the titular commune. But the change in format also gives Gayou the opportunity to fully stretch his wings as a storyteller. And the result is…well, as I said, nothing short of extraordinary. In addition to the commune members we already know, we’re introduced to a host of new characters (and wow, what characters they are!). With the third-person perspective, the author is no longer stuck inside the head of the POV character. This allows him to paint a picture of every scene that is crisp, vivid, and memorable. And the characters are brought to life in technicolor. Now we, the reader, get to see beyond their own narrow perspectives (or their unreliable memories of events, as the previous books were fashioned as re-tellings by each character), and see every side of each conversation, including a drone’s-eye-view of the POV character, his/her behavior, mannerisms and appearance. And Gayou seems to have an inexhaustible supply of character material to draw on, as the depth and detail of these varied personalities is astonishing. And my god are these characters entertaining! From heart-wrenching moments that leave you on the brink of tears, to hilariously disgusting antics that will leave your sides splitting. These are some of the most memorable characters I’ve read.
One gets the sense that Mr. Gayou isn’t simply showing off. He has a rare talent in sketching these people, but there seems to be a profound reason for this, which we can feel ratcheting up tighter and tigher as the story progresses. Everything is coming to a head at some point. And Mr. Gayou is setting us all up for a fall. He’s doing a masterful job of investing us in these people (both the good guys and bad, I might add), so that the stakes are ever higher when the proverbial feces finally hits the fan.
I won’t spoil any of the plot for you (surely you’ve already read C1 and C2 if you’re considering reading Commune 3). I’ll just say that C3 is a riveting continuation of the story line, expands the cast, stress-tests a few of the characters (both old and new), and gives more background on some of the more mysterious cast members.
Commune 3 is extraordinary. If I could give it 6 stars, I would.