In a quick perusal of the table of contents, author Roger Colby’s “This Broken Earth” looks like an adventure story crossing the world told from rotating points of view, but at its heart, it’s the story of Clayton, a survivor of the demise of the United States as we know it.
“This Broken Earth” concerns itself with “what’s next,” but without giving too much away, this story is an apocalyptic one not a post-apocalyptic one. Cue “The End” by the Doors: “This is the end, my only friend, the end.”
Clayton is a reluctant evangelist on a mission. On his way, he encounters a meteor shower, gun battles and miracles that some of his fellow travelers find unbelievable.
The novel comes in three parts described as “Book 1,” “Book 2” and “Book 3”: “U.S. of After,” “The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan” and “Babylon the Great.” They’re really parts of the same book. Reading only one part would be highly unsatisfactory.
I picked up “This Broken Earth” for three reasons:
- Colby describes himself as a Christian writer in the same vein as C.S. Lewis.
- He writes an interesting blog about self-publishing at “Writing is Hard Work.”
- I got the Kindle version for free. Who doesn’t like free? (Even now, the Kindle version is only $2.99).
As Colby alludes to in his reader’s note, I think “This Broken Earth” is meant to be one man’s version of the Bible’s Book of Revelation, which I find nearly impossible to digest with all its symbolism and allegorical language. Instead, “This Broken Earth” reads almost like documented eye-witness accounts of all the characters, sort of like the narrative fictionalization of Jonathan Kirsch without the historical background.
Colby’s use of rotating points of view is unevenly successful. Sometimes, the non-stop action bulldozes character development, the female characters are a bit cardboard (they’re nice window dressing, but they’re single-dimensional) and I had no time for some of the minor characters such as Howard, Hafiz and Hui. But I especially like Clayton and Gideon.
Evangelical Christians will appreciate that the Holy Spirit speaks like the Old Testament, and gun enthusiasts will appreciate the attention to detail — I couldn’t care less what kind of gun was being wielded.
By the time you get to Book 3, you won’t be able to put “This Broken Earth” down.