4 out of 5 stars.
Commune: Book One is an excellent first book by a promising new author. I learned of Joshua Gayou’s book through a mutual friend and thought what the hell, I’ll give it a shot. I read a lot of indie authors and first-time novelists, with varying degrees of satisfaction. Many brand new authors start out pretty shaky, with poorly developed stories, one-dimensional characters, awkward prose and poor editing. So I wasn’t expecting much when I jumped into this book. I was more or less just curious to see what someone who happened to be in a similar circle of friends would be writing about.
But I was quite pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this book. While I’m not a huge follower of post-apocalyptic fiction, I do enjoy it from time to time. Gayou’s take on the theme tends to focus on more of the details of what would actually happen in such a societal break-down, and how the people who are left would cope with the new reality. Most other books, movies and TV shows in the genre tend to break down into simple good vs. evil melodrama, with survivors aggregating into one of those two camps and battling it out, with a heavy focus on the violence. Commune has some of those themes, of course, but the book takes a more cerebral approach to exploring the reality of what would actually happen.
The structure of the story is clever, told in first-person from several of the main characters’ points of view. At first this threw me a little bit, as I would confuse characters when the POV shifted. But from about half-way through the book all of the chapters are from a single character’s POV so it becomes a little easier to follow along.
There were a few editing issues I spotted, along with a couple of minor plot problems, but these were few and far between. Overall the prose was MUCH cleaner than I’ve come to expect from rookie novelists. And they weren’t enough to throw off my reading rhythm or to affect my enjoyment of the story.
And I did enjoy it. I found myself tearing through the story faster than I usually do with some of my favorite big-name authors. This is presented as book one in a series, and I find myself looking forward to the continuation of the story. Well done, Mr. Gayou.
If you are an indie or self-published author and are interested in having me read and review your book, drop me a note with a link to your eBook listing on Amazon. If it looks interesting, I may add it to my “to read” list. I typically post my reviews to Amazon and Goodreads. I do not ask for free copies in exchange for a review. If it looks like something I might enjoy, I will gladly pay for it myself.