Jonathan Maas' Flare will be published during spring of 2015.
Information about Jonathan Maas:
Jon Maas is a writer living in Los Angeles and has written two novels City of gods: Hellenica, and Spanners: The Fountain of Youth.
He has been a creative type his whole life, from stints as both a musician and a standup comedian to his current profession as novelist, and he has wrestled with professional envy the whole time.
Information about Flare:
FEAR THE DAYLIGHT
Without warning or explanation, an extended solar flare bombards the earth and doesn't stop, making each day a battle for survival. The sunlight blinds and burns instantly, and then kills within minutes. The radiation has also destroyed all of the earth's circuitry, leaving the nights dark and dangerous.
TWO FIND HOPE AMIDST THE CHAOS
Two survivors, a thousand miles apart, each hear a rumor of a distant safe haven that can withstand the sun. Zeke is a silent wanderer, Ash is a brilliant young man hiding a painful past, and neither know just what this place really is.
To get there they must each travel through ravaged towns and over hundreds of miles of charred earth, and must do so under a sky waiting to kill them with every sunrise.
But with the world's population dying off and humanity getting more and more violent as the days pass, their paths are destined to collide, because this unknown and unseen place might be their only hope remaining.
A REVIEW OF JONATHAN MAAS' FLARE
Jonathan Maas' Flare was a nice surprise for me, because it was entertaining post-apocalyptic science fiction for adults.
I personally liked Flare, but a word of warning may be in order, because there are probably readers out there who are not used to this kind of bleak science fiction. If you're unfamiliar with post-apocalyptic fiction and do not normally read this kind of fiction, you may find Flare pretty bleak and grim, so you may want to think twice before reading it. However, if you're used to this kind of fiction, Flare is definitely worth reading, because it contains all the necessary elements needed to intrigue a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction.
Flare is almost like a combination of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, the sci-fi horror film Pitch Black, Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead and Stephen King's The Stand, but it is totally different from them. This novel is a surprisingly interesting combination of different well-known speculative fiction elements associated with post-apocalyptic fiction, because it feels instantly familiar, but is a refreshingly different kind of a post-apocalyptic story.
In this novel the apocalypse was caused by the sun. The extended solar flare has killed people and only a few people have survived it. As experienced readers know, this isn't anything new in science fiction, but the way Jonathan Maas writes about it feels refreshingly different and entertaining. He has his own vision of a major apocalypse.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
- The world has changed a lot because of the solar flare that burns people to death. Getting caught in the sun is extremely dangerous and deadly.
- Zeke is a wanderer who wanders from one place to another. He saves an old man who gives him a gift, a tent, so that he can camp and live outdoors. Zeke meets a man called Colm who tells him of a safe place called the Salvation. Colm found the name of this safe place when he solved a riddle found in paper sheets...
- Ash wakes up in his twin sister's house and finds out that he has survived the flare. His sister, Heather, tells him how he survived the flare. Together they go outside the house and see terrifying things. They meet Raj and talk with him. Raj shows them papers that have equations on them. They think that somebody who knew about the flare made the papers. They begin to gather the paper sheets that are found outdoors, because the sheets have different set of words, numbers and symbols on them. Ash and Heather begin to solve the puzzles and realize that they have probably found a safe place, the Salvation. They decide to travel there...
This is the beginning of a thrilling story during which Zeke and Ash meet different people and have to deal with many challenges and surprises.
I enjoyed reading about the characters and their lives, because each of them was different from the others. In my opinion the character interaction in this novel is good and works well, because the conversations between the characters reveal things about them and their surroundings.
The author writes well about Ash's childhood memories, because they're vivid and realistic memories. It was interesting to read about his experiences, because he was intelligent and different from other children. He didn't have an easy childhood (because he had scars, his life was difficult - the scars caused him lots of suffering when growing up).
Jonathan Maas writes fluently about the relationships between people. In my opinion he handled the relationship between Ash and Heather in a good way, because he emphasized the right issues. He also wrote well about Heather's lover, Dr. Shaw, who had been burnt badly by the flare and Heather's feelings towards him.
The author has created an interesting post-apocalyptic world in Flare. The sun is the enemy in this novel, because sunlight blinds and burns immediately and then comes death. Being out in the sun burns the skin so fast that recovery is nearly impossible unless the damages are only local.
Here's information about how the world has changed during the solar flare:
The world has become a dangerous place and you have to know how to stay alive (survival skills are now more important than ever before). Certain people - including prisoners, sociopaths and desperate people - have learned to survive in the new world and have occupied their own areas. Some of these people are capable of doing almost anything to survive. Survival has become so difficult that violence has increased and you have to be careful around other people. Because the desperate situation drives people to do evil things that they wouldn't normally do, interacting with people can cause problems.
It was interesting for me to read that certain creatures - for example, cats - had survived and had adapted to living in the new world. They could sense the sunrise and crawled for safety when the sun approached.
It's great that Jonathan Maas pays attention to the details involved in how the characters survive in the harsh new world. He tells about their struggle to stay alive in vivid details and doesn't sugarcoat the happenings. It was genuinely interesting for me to read about how the characters found shelter for the day, looked for food and tried to avoid dangers, because their lives weren't easy and each day brought new threats.
The atmosphere is satisfyingly bleak and grim in this novel, because the survivors live in a world filled with grief, despair, loneliness and difficult decisions. Hope is scarce, because many people have died and more people will die each day, and burnt bodies can be found everywhere. The author's descriptions of the burnt bodies and dying people are realistic and they add atmospheric bleakness and grittiness to the story.
Although the atmosphere is bleak, there's a bit of hope in the world, because the protagonists know of a safe place where they might find safety from the burning sun.
Because Flare is a novel for adults, there's violence and sex in it. In my opinion the author wrote well about these scenes, because they were part of the story and highlighted certain things.
It was interesting that such plants as cacti had somehow managed to survive the solar flare and could be used as food (various species of cacti are edible plants, but some of them can be poisonous and contain toxic substances). People also eat mushrooms to stay alive, although eating them is a bit risky, because you have to know which ones are edible. If you happen to eat the wrong kind of a mushroom, you may experience bad hallucinations or you may die.
There's quite a lot of emotional depth in this novel, which is nice, because it's an essential part of well written post-apocalyptic fiction. It was interesting to read about the characters' thoughts, losses and feelings towards others.
One of the most intriguing things about Flare is that the survivors have to make difficult decisions. It was especially interesting to read about the people at the Salvation and their decisions concerning humanity and its future, because they had their own views about the world and who is worthy of surviving the apocalypse.
It was great that the characters had to solve the puzzles to find out where the safe place was. This kind of a mystery element is seldom used in this kind of fiction, so it was refreshing to read about how the characters solved the puzzles and found out about the safe place. I'm not going to reveal why people had to be able to solve the puzzles, but I'll mention that everything will be explained to the readers.
It was surprising for me to find out how well the author wrote about social dynamics. He seemed to understand well how humans react to different situations and what motivates them. He writes fluently about men and women and differences between them, because both sexes have different kind of dynamics between individuals of the same sex.
I was amazed at how well the author writes about religion and religious elements. He handles these elements in a surprisingly bold way and writes about them from different perspectives, which is nice, because it adds depth to the story.
I give this novel strong four stars on the scale from one to five stars, because it was an intriguing novel. I have nothing bad to say about this novel, because I enjoyed reading about the characters and their adventures. It would've been nice to read a bit more about the world and the different places, but I think that the author made a right decision by concentrating mostly on the characters and their fates, because it added depth to the story.
If you enjoy reading post-apocalyptic science fiction, Jonathan Maas' Flare is worth taking a look, because it offers an intriguing vision of a dangerous and detailed post-apocalyptic world to its readers. It also offers food for thoughts, because the characters have to think about their situation and decice what to do in order to survive in the harsh new world.
My final words are:
This novel is good and interesting science fiction for adults!