Kings of a Dead World
by Jamie Mollart
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Pub Date 10 Jun 2021 | Archive Date 4 Aug 2022
The Earth’s resources are dwindling. The solution is The Sleep: periods of hibernation imposed on those who remain with only a Janitor to watch over the sleepers.
In the sleeping city, elderly Ben struggles with his limited waking time and the disease which is stealing his wife from him. Outside, lonely Janitor Peruzzi craves the family he never knew. Around them both, dissatisfaction is growing.
The city is about to wake.
'Mollart's intriguing and timely premise is executed with verve - Kings of a Dead World is filmic in its scope.' -- Alison Moore, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
'A haunting vision of the near-future with expert world-building and rich complex characters, Kings of a Dead World kept me gripped from beginning to end.' -- Temi Oh, winner of the Alex Award
'This is a frightening, thoughtful vision exploring where power lies when even the act of being awake is revolutionary.' -- Aliya Whiteley, shortlisted for the Arthur C. Clarke Award
Average rating from 19 members
With an overpopulated earth and resources dwindling the only option the Government has determined for its inhabitants is to put them to sleep; so begins the story of how this dystopian world came to be. We hear from two viewpoints, Ben Middleton who tries to stop this new world with his anarchist group NSF and Peruzzi the caretaker for his districts sleeping inhabitants.
The story and its characters were so gripping that I read this in one sitting. The two protagonists Ben and Peruzzi were both flawed but so real that I couldn't relax until I knew exactly what was going to happen to them. 5 Stars and would definitely recommend!
Kings Of A Dead World had a highly imaginative and powerful premise, immediately involving and beautifully done.
Moving between past and present, from a group of revolutionaries (or terrorists depending on how you look at it) to a world that sleeps to protect resources, this novel proposes a truly terrifyingly possible end to life as we know it.
Jamie Mollart immerses us into two lives, one old, one young, both with their own particular demons, living in a dead world. As we learn what lead them here, a darkly observant narrative unfolds as both realise that the status quo might not be exactly as it appears.
This is an intelligent, thought provoking tale which is also highly addictive and full of character twists and turns that really engage the reader with the world created here. It is melancholy and oft beautiful with an underlying sense of unease that stays with you.
Really excellent. I have no problem at all with highly recommending it.
Handmaid's Tales meets the Inverted World
This is a fantastically imaginative novel, eerily prescient in light of the pandemic and, like The Handmaid's Tale, a stone's throw away from happening.
The story tells of a world run out of resources and the only solution is to put the majority of the population to sleep for three out of every four months. The novel follows the story of primarily two characters, as well as a third narrative looking back at the past.
This novel is incredibly well written and well-paced. It was a real page-turner as issues escalate and catastrophe is anticipated.
At a deeper level, the commentary on society and human behaviour is insightful - motivations are really well thought out for most characters.
"Kings of a Dead World" is definitely an uncomfortable read. Jamie Mollart presents us with a future that is far too possible and distasteful. As entertainment, though, it can't be faulted. It's a brilliantly written and immersive story that's hard to put down. The characters are realistic, and "Ben" was my favourite. One for the bookshelf labelled "WARNINGS TO HUMANITY".
My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley. This review was written voluntarily and is entirely my own, unbiased, opinion.
Kings of a Dead World by Jamie Mollart
General Fiction (Adult) | Literary Fiction | Sci Fi & Fantasy
The Earth’s limited resources are dwindling. The solution is The Sleep: periods of hibernation imposed on those who remain with only a Janitor to watch over the sleepers.
In the sleeping city, elderly Ben struggles with his limited waking time and the disease that is stealing his wife from him. Outside, lonely Janitor Peruzzi craves the family he never knew. Around them both, dissatisfaction is growing. The city is about to wake.
This is an awe-inspiring novel, a real page-turner. It is a dystopian story designed to pull at your very heartstrings.
Reading this, I am thinking J.G Ballard, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.
High Rise, Brave New World and 1984 all rolled into one.
This is brilliant because they are three of my all-time favourite books.
Kings of a Dead World is definitely an incredible read. Jamie Mollart presents us with a future that is not beyond the realms of possibility.
All the growing of food and production of other goods are done away from towns and cities. These tasks are performed by robots but, it is up to the Janitor's to trade goods on a stock market and gain credits for the populace.
There is a lot to like about the character of Ben. He loves his wife Rose but, he knows the futility of the future. He feels such pain, not for himself but for her and the many like her.
Peruzzi is a flawed Janitor, built like a brick toilet (too much spare time on his hands), who is quickly, getting disillusioned with life.
There is a lot of passion and empathy within the characters involved. Ben especially, despite his ageing frailties, shows the reader how as human beings, we can still find strength when needed.
We have glimpses of how and why Ben and Rose got together and who the cult leader Andreas was, and how they got involved with him. It also goes on to explain the anarchy that the cult caused that preceded events. But no spoilers.
The dialogues are very realistic, as you would expect, so prepare for imaginative language and content.
As each chapter progresses, it ramps up the excitement. And the pace was relentless throughout. I hope that does not sound like a contradiction on my part.
Kings of a Dead World is also quite thought-provoking. There is a passage in the book where Ben says, "The meeting of the United World Congress was to be held the following month. The leaders were to be flown in over a period of three days, and decisions were to be made that would end the shortages and over-population and the rising waters and wars and starvation. The solutions presented ranged from extreme to unimaginable, and there was a feeling, certainly amongst the people that I associated with, that this was the final solution, no one, ever expects they will see Armageddon in their lifetime. no-one expected the world wars, the middle-east wars, the Korean holocaust, the oil wars, and yet, somehow there was always an end to them, and the human race marched on."
And I thought how poignant, very apt and who knows maybe very prophetic.
I think this may be a controversial book for some, then so were most of Ballards, he didn't do too bad as an author, did he?
Maybe that is the best compliment I personally can pay the Kings of the Dead, if it had been written by J G Ballard, I would not have been the least bit surprised.
I am sure we will be hearing a great deal more from Jamie Mollart.
Suffice to say, I really enjoyed the book. It was insightful, intense and imaginative. Kings of a Dead World is a thought-provoking thriller of a novel that will entertain to the very end.
Thank you, NetGalley and Sandstone Press, for the ADC.
“People had been expecting the world to end for so long that no one really noticed when it did.”
My thanks to Sandstone Press for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Kings of a Dead World’ by Jamie Mollart in exchange for an honest review.
This is a powerful work of speculative fiction set approximately sixty years in the future. With the Earth’s resources dwindling and the effects of climate change, a series of drastic solutions are implemented to decrease the population. One of these is The Sleep, periods of hibernation that are imposed upon the population. Each sleeping population is watched over by a Janitor, a member of an elite who remain awake.
The narrative is split into three storylines. The first features elderly Ben Middleton, who has just woken from his three month sleep and now has a month with his beloved wife, Rose, whose increasing dementia means that she is quickly slipping away from him.
The second focuses on Peruzzi, a Janitor living in a compound assisted by a powerful AI, named Ripley. (‘Alien’ tribute?). He craves contact with the family that he has never known. Both men are aware of growing dissatisfaction in the population of the city that is about to wake up.
The third storyline is just described as Before and features Ben in his 30s giving an account of his early relationship with Rose and as well as his involvement with the charismatic Andreas. They were both university professors and Andreas involves Ben in the NSF (Natural Selection Front), an environmental group that quickly moves into ecoterrorism.
Ben’s history wasn’t always easy reading though I felt that Jamie Mollart did well in depicting Ben’s radicalisation.
Jamie Mollart is an active member of the recently established Climate Fiction Writers League. This global collective seeks to raise awareness about climate change through their writing. I certainly feel that ‘Kings of a Dead World’ accomplished this through examining the experiences of a few living within this dead world.
Even though I was quite taken with it, there were a few issues. The narrative was very focused on the experiences of a few men, with little input from women. Yes, there was Rose and Kitty, Andreas’ sometimes girlfriend, but only Ripley, who was identified as female even though an AI, emerged as a strong presence for me.
It was also a little difficult to get a sense of the larger picture of the justification for changes such as the banning of all religions. Despite this the Janitors have adopted the ecstatic worship of Bacchus, a golden bull. Was this a curated religion to allow them to blow off a little steam? The golden bull did appear to reference Old Testament frolics rather than Roman bacchanalia.
There was quite a lot of action, though some of the violence was quite strong. Plus, a few ‘ewww’ moments with the Sleepers (not all Janitors were ethical). The final section was very tense and page-turning exciting. I did feel that the ending was a bit abrupt though it does allow an opening for further writing in this dead world.
Overall, I found this an intelligent, thought-provoking novel that examined serious issues and yet was both readable and entertaining. Pretty much what I look for in science/speculative/dystopian fiction.
4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
This is a dystopian sci-fi and it also fits into the climate-fiction genre too
Three narratives and two timelines - Jamie Mollart has done an exceptional job of fusing these together to create an awesome reading experience.
Included in my May Wrap Up video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xNv-3x6pEs
We’re in a world where all the resources on earth are running out and the powers that be have decided that the solution is something called “the sleep”, everyone sleeps for three months straight and then wakes for a month so essentially you’re only awake for 3 months in the entire year.
This was an interesting read, thought provoking, and some good twists as well.
I'd love to see this on the big screen, This has got massive potential for a movie or a tv series.
Kings of a Dead World is a thought-provoking, gripping piece of speculative fiction that is set in a dystopian future not too far from the present. All resources of the planet have been depleted, flooding has changed the coasts and Earth is overpopulated. As a consequence, the world’s powers have come up with technological solutions to periodically put people in Sleep mode not to consume more. Janitors are “supervisors” of individual cities: among their duties, they have to win Creds off each other -- which correspond to money for the people to buy what they need -- in trading sessions that remind of a mixture of the stock market and tactic games. New deities and collective rituals have been introduced, too. This world is monitored in Big Brother style and revolts cannot happen because the Janitors can put people to sleep with a single click. Yet there are cracks in the system and by the end the scenario will be radically altered.
We follow the narrative from three interesting perspectives that will intersect at certain points: the compelling narrative of Ben, an old man whose wife has progressive dementia and he struggles to keep her in touch with reality and to find food in this new world; Peruzzi the Janitor, who commits hubris as he discovers that he can roam out there when everyone sleeps and be king of the dead world -- every outing of his is full of suspense; and an unnamed terrorist from the past who had fought desperately to alter the course of events and gives insights into how this world came to be.
This novel fuses Orwellian elements, from surveillance to the dilapidated, dusty atmospheres of the city, and Gibsonian touches (The Matrix). I found the premises interesting and original, both in the treatment of overpopulation as a main lens and in the gamification aspect, i.e. imagining how to make markets flow. Moreover, the plot is gripping as you feel you are always on the verge of something ominous and it was intriguing to see characters going to the extremes – the scenes of societal collapse felt devastating and full of impact. Despite total ecological collapse, it was possible to put together quicky a sophisticated global control system; while this seemed far fetched to me at the start, the reasons become clear toward the very end and I could only fully appreciate on second thoughts. Some parts/elements felt a bit too long/distracting, and the introduction of new divinities also felt a bit awkard (how can humanity come to believe in Chronos in a very short span of time?), but the new collective rites are strange and quirky and everything in this action-packed novel seems perfect for a movie: you actually feel you can visualize what is going on. Altogether the novel is well conceived, full of interesting ideas and kept me guessing and hooked till the end.
Kinds of a Dead World kept me up all night! I couldn't put it down, and I what a cool concept. This should be made into a film! Highly original and clever.
An intriguing vision of a future in which the world's resources have dwindled and the population artificially sleeps for three months. The concept is quite frightening but believable given that the ice caps are melting and the climate is changing. I felt the ending a little rushed but it was an enjoyable and thoughtful read. Less violence shown would have been good.
The cover and premise of this novel immediately intrigued me, and I wasn't disappointed! This sci-fi dystopia set in our near future explores a world in which drastic actions have had to be taken to control the population and distribute resources in a Britain ravaged by climate change and political unrest. I loved the structure of the novel, jumping between the two main characters who both had intiguing roles to play within this eerie world - Mollart's writing skillfully unwound the mystery of the world they're in, I loved the depth of his characters who were all morally grey but well-developed in their motivations and passions. There were some slower sections, but the action more than made up for it, and the slow tension builds up to a crescendo of an ending, which left me wanting even more. A fantastic book that I will definitely be left thinking about for weeks, and I will be on the look out for more of Jamie Mollart's writing in the future!
Just to note: There were a few spelling and grammar mistakes throughout the book, but I understand that this was an advanced copy, and I hope these will have been resolved for the finished book.
[Note: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.] – Spoiler alert! - @sandstonepress
The book is another episode in the apocalyptic dystopia revival of these last years. Unfortunately, I read it just right after “Brave new world”, and, considering the latter was written 80 years ago, it shows. Yet, I would recommend reading the book as it is in any case a nicely flowing science fiction novel.
There are some quirks and flaws in the story, which are not quite explained (unless there is space for a sequel or a prequel), such as what exactly happens in between the two storylines over which the books is narrated (as an example, who exactly is Rip Van, and how it came to rule this world or segment of the world?).
Also, the fact that you are brought to sympathize with a terrorist in a “V for Vendetta” way, leave somehow a bad taste in the aftermath, although it is fiction only.
The best message, however, is brought at the end, when you find out that, despite objective differences, the passing of time, the hostile environment, family and human relationships are the saviors of the day. As Jamie Mollart says in the acknowledgments, “somewhere at its heart, this noverl is about family.”
A clever and unusual book, set in two time periods, although that did not detract from the ease of following the storyline. I was surprised to find the earlier time period quite compelling, as it chronicled the radicalisation of one of the main characters, which I didn’t expect to enjoy but I did find fascinating. The later period was more ‘my thing’, set in a very dystopian world and containing some quite unusual ideas.
I nearly knocked off a point, I would have done had I been able to take half a point, because I felt that the question of who was overseeing the world was not answered, and I felt the ending rather rushed. I decided not to do that, in the hope that there will be a sequel in which my questions will be answered!
Wow, this scifi/dystopia kept me up reading past my bedtime—that didn't happen for a long time! The whole concept of this book is highly original and was a breeze to read. I'll keep my eyes peeled for more books by this author!
Kings Of A Dead World had a highly imaginative and powerful premise, immediately involving and beautifully done. Moving between past and present, from a group of revolutionaries (or terrorists depending on how you look at it) to a world that sleeps to protect resources, this novel proposes a truly terrifyingly possible end to life as we know it. Jamie Mollart immerses us into two lives, one old, one young, both with their own particular demons, living in a dead world. As we learn what lead them here, a darkly observant narrative unfolds as both realise that the status quo might not be exactly as it appears. This is an intelligent, thought provoking tale which is also highly addictive and full of character twists and turns that really engage the reader with the world created here. It is melancholy and oft beautiful with an underlying sense of unease that stays with you. Really excellent. I have no problem at all with highly recommending it.
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