The Deserter by Peader O Guilin

Rating 8.8/10
Peadar O'Guilin continues to push the boundaries further and further back.

The first book in The Bone Trilogy, The Inferior, was a very good book. It is true that it took me a bit of time to get into it and I was initially confused over whether the book was for children or for adults but by the time I turned the last page I had been drawn fully into the clever worlds that Peadar Ó Guilín had created.

The second book in the trilogy, The Deserter is, in my opinion, an improvement on its predecessor. If you are thinking about starting upon the trilogy then this review of The Inferior would be the best place to start but if you are wondering whether the series keeps up the standards set in the first book then I am delighted to tell you that it does. And then some.

There was a four-year gap between the publishing of The Inferior and The Deserter but luckily for me, having coming late to the series, I was able to begin reading the second novel mere days after completing the first. I can't tell you how much of a difference this makes to the enjoyment of a series as often, when books in a series are at least a year apart, characters and events lay buried under a layer of dust and a simple mental dusting is rarely enough to pick up the thread fully again.

In The Deserter we find the stone-age humans in a state of weakness and vulnerability. The beasts that share their world will soon kill and eat them and, in order to save his tribe, Stopmouth must make his way to the Roof, the mysterious hi-tech world looking down on them from above. But the Roof has its own problems; the nano technology that controls everything from the environment to the human body is collapsing…

Whereas the first book spent a great deal of time and attention on exposition the second book is far more of an adrenaline-fuelled adventure. The story rarely stays in one place for too long and we soon find Stopmouth outside his comfort-zone (OK, admittedly not very comfortable) and in the hi-tech world above where he is the proverbial fish-out-of-water.  A virus is destroying segments of the Roof, resulting in millions of refugees seeking shelter below. Rebellion is imminent and in this middle of all this turmoil is Stopmouth, attempting to find the secret power behind the Roof's computerised brain and return to the world below in time to save his people.

The Philip K. Dick inspired city of the future portrayed within the Roof is a real treat. The inhabitants are plugged into a mainframe that creates a virtual life of happiness and contentment that enables them to cope with the squalid lives they do in fact have. Any who have read the (vastly-underrated) Red Dwarf books will find parallels here with the Better Than Life virtual game that allows Rimmer, Lister and The Cat to live the life of their dreams whilst their forgotten bodies waste and decay. This is always a topic that I have found fascinating and I very much liked  Ó Guilín's interpretation of it.

Although readers may experience an initial shock when they read these books, due mainly to the writing style not preparing them for subject matter such as genocide and cannibalism, the feeling soon passes and they will discover that these are fascinating works of speculative, dystopian fiction.

Peadar Ó Guilín continues to push the boundaries further and further back and young-adults will relish the maturity with which they are treated here. I recommend that you read The Inferior and then highly recommend that you straight-away begin on The Deserter.


For those of you who have read and enjoyed both The Inferior and The Deserter I would like to recommend these other great dystopian novels: The Reapers are the Angles by Alden Bell, X-isle by Steve Augarde and This Perfect Day by Ira Levine.

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