Sunday, 9 September 2007

Recommended Reading: "Chion" by Darryl Sloan

It was the premise that hooked me in to start with. The idea of snow falling all over the country, and possibly the world, and rather than turning to slush and melting away, it mysteriously remains. But not just that, something terrible has happened. Is it a freak accident of nature, or is it the work of a new kind of chemical terrorist warfare? For, touching it, treading on it, or falling on it leaves one fixed to it - permanently.

The title of the book, Chion (pronounced “Kai-on”) is an ancient Greek word meaning “like snow”. The fact that it’s white and flaky is where the similarity ends. All over the British Isles, Ireland, and maybe beyond, people are trapped in their own homes, in their cars on the motorway, at school, hoping that someone is going to come and save them, or tell them how to save themselves. What will happen when the food runs out? What about electricity supplies and heat?

Chion is set at Clounagh Junior High school in Northern Ireland and tells the story of Jamie and Tara, who dare to think they might escape the confines of the school building and reach a safe haven. This is the other aspect that hooked me: the characterisation.

Jamie and Tara are real teenagers. They worry about the things real teenagers worry about. Jamie has a crush on Tara, and because of some bad news he has received about himself, she becomes his main focus. What starts out as a science-fiction thriller, becomes, by turns, a tale about a group of increasingly paranoid and frightened people stuck in an enclosed place, an adventure about fugitives on the run, and a love story.

The book is a classic in the “What if?” genre of storytelling, and the reader cannot help but wonder what he or she would do in similar circumstances. It’s a page turner, be sure about that.

Shades of John Wyndham (The Day of the Triffids) and John Christopher (the Tripods saga, The Prince in Waiting trilogy) come through as Chion mimics the best of the old post-apocalyptic greats, while at the same time remaining poignant and contemporary.

Darryl Sloan is a keen observer of human nature. His plotting is meticulous and clever. He deserves to have national and international success with this.

It is best book I’ve read this year.

Highly recommended.

Chion by Darryl Sloan.

Personal signed copies available from the author's web site

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