Book Review – Earthshatter

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Believer by Imagine Dragons)

I am so happy to finally be finished with this book so I can write about how great it is.

With that in mind, let’s get started!

Title: Earthshatter

Author: Albert Nothlit

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Premise: Eight individuals wake up from cryogenic sleep to find that their city has been completely destroyed – overrun by a species of intelligent, adaptive centipedes who seem intent on obliterating all life on the Earth. They must fight together to make their way through the city, avoiding dangers of all sorts, and try to piece together what happened on the night the centipedes first attacked.

Wow. Dude, seriously, wow.

I have to admit, when I pick up a book from a small independent press or publisher, I assume a lower level of quality. Maybe it’s because I assume (probably incorrectly) if a book is good enough, it makes it to one of the Big Six. Maybe it’s because my shitty work might (eventually) be published in one of these presses. But whatever the reason, I try to keep expectations low when I read a small-press novel.

Which is why this one completely blew my mind.

Earthshatter is an incredible novel for anyone interested in getting into sci-fi at the ground floor. If you want to see what the genre is like but you can’t stand the intensity of it – most canonical sci-fi is written in the same language and prose as a goddamn scientific paper – this is a great start. Because it’s written in the kind of YA tone and with a bunch of younger characters, it’s instantly more relateable and readable than most sci-fi.

Add onto this that the whole thing is written in first-person, and you have something that isn’t really sci-fi except for in name. Which is perfect for someone looking for a lighter read, but with the cool science-y stuff and the dystopic world and everything.

The characters each get their turn at having the perspective shift to them, allowing a lot of well-done, deep and realistic perspectives on events. They’re well-written and their motivations are completely clear throughout, and some of them undergo arcs that are actually really inspiring.

The only things I take issue with in this book are twofold – one, it’s a heavily character-driven book, and so while a lot of things are happening in terms of story, the plot is kind of on the backburner. Meaning, while a lot happens, not a lot happens in the grand scheme of things. This was very clearly meant to be the first segment of a series, and I’m excited to see how it turns out, but if you’re looking for a book where the plot is moving quickly, this isn’t it.

(Side note, check out this post about story versus plot for a better explanation of what I mean by this.)

And the second thing I have issue with is the same issue I take with a lot of new writing – when something is apparent through dialogue, and then is stated immediately after in a redundant way.

(As an example: ” ‘Oh, Omar,’ I said, understanding the full burden of guilt he bore.” It’s very clear from the context of this section – which is a spoiler, so I don’t want to post the full text here – that the character understand Omar’s guilt, so we don’t need it explicitly stated.)

But other than those two little things, this book is awesome. It keeps up a great pace, sets a dark but often humorous tone to match the post-apocalyptic feel of the world, and has enough of that cool science and technology to be sci-fi without being approximately as easy to read as a doctoral thesis. I would seriously recommend this one to anyone who likes YA, or wants to try out sci-fi, or anyone who just likes a good tale.

Reed’s Rating: 9/10

Yours, possibly working on some L. Ron Hubbard next,

-R.R. Buck


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