The Savage Boy by Nick Cole

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Rating 8.5/10
A must-read for all post-apocalyptic fans

The Savage Boy is the second novel in Nick Cole’s Wasteland Saga and follows on from the events that unfolded in the first novel, The Old Man and the Wasteland.

The Old Man and the Wasteland was a good novel, written in the style of Cormac McCarthy and Ernest Hemingway. The story followed the titular Old Man and his struggles to remain useful to his village, to be able to scavenge successfully and be a benefit rather than a burden to his post-apocalyptic community. However, here the author makes the brave decision to omit the Old Man from the second novel and concentrate on the Boy instead. I admired this decision and found it refreshing to further explore this wasted world through a new set of eyes.

Again Cole writes in a minimalistic, sparse style and the characters and the world they help populate are excellently drawn. Although the world is undoubtedly bleak the author imbues genuine warmth and hope into the narrative. These are people who dare to hope, they show the indomitability of the human spirit and the ability of humans to adapt to the most hostile of environments.

At around 200 pages, this is once again not a long novel. The author is adept at showing the devastated landscape and our new lead, the Savage Boy, is a young man damaged by both trauma and pollution. In the first novel the Old Man had a ‘friend’ in his mind, the old man from Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Here the Boy also has a friend in his mind, the Sergeant, who is his constant companion and source of wisdom and information to aid his survival. Through flashbacks we learn the backstory of the Boy as we follow him and his Horse (possibly inspired by A Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis?) as they make their way across an America seeking what may have been left from the world before. It is a tragic and moving story.

These books are really good and I can see myself rereading them in the very near future. The Wasteland Saga is a must-read for all post-apocalyptic fans. When I purchased these books they were available for only 99 pence, which I found offered excellent value for money.

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