No Return by Zachary Jernigan
Book of the Month
No Return is the debut novel from Zachary Jernigan, and I have to say that it's not like any other book I have ever read. In part a sci-fi / fantasy / far future / post apocalyptic genre mash-up, but also deep examination of the many facets of religion, spirituality and sexuality, No Return is a book that I think people will either love or hate.
"...while no sane man could deny the god’s existence, he could interpret events as he saw fit..."
Central to No Return is the God Adrash, a man-like being who watches over the planet of Jeroun from his orbit just outside the planet's atmosphere, a being with the capacity to destroy Jeroun and all who live on it with barely a thought. The story rotates through five viewpoint characters, exploring the paths that each person takes towards their eventual confrontation with Adrash. Vedas, Berun and Churls are companions, travelling to the city of Danoor so that Vedas can take part in vicious sectarian tournament where the victor will have the chance to appease Adrash and set the course of religion for the next ten years. Ebn and Pol are outbound mages of the elder race, people who are capable of using magic to achieve space flight and look upon the face of Adrash. Both want to eliminate the threat Adrash presents, but both have very different thoughts on how they should do it.
"As always, and despite the pain of holding the memory still, Ebn lingered on the god’s perfection."
On the surface, No Return tells the story of the journey towards the big tournament, but it is so much deeper if you are willing to look. As I mentioned before, No Return presents a deep examination of religion, spirituality and sexuality. This is achieved through the five different characters, with each character exhibiting different preferences for each characteristic. Picture religion, spirituality and sexuality as three sliding scales, with each character existing in different places on each scale. Vedas, for example, is a celibate man with a strong affinity for his religious sect, but spirituality is not something he considers with much weight. This contrasts well Churls who is completely confident in her own sexuality, who belittles those who follow religion, but who has some very deep thoughts about spirituality and Adrash. Over the course of the book we get to see how the events in the story shape each one of the characters, sometimes shifting them along one of the scales I mentioned before, and other times reinforcing how they feel about religion, spirituality or sexuality. Jernigan does a fantastic job at showcasing as many sides as he can of these three different characteristics, and he does so without prejudicing or preaching in favour of one side. It is left to the reader to formulate their own opinion.
"He had never looked upon the act of sex with revulsion. Instead, he simply did not consider it an option."
Jernigan doesn't shy away from the visualization in his writing, and I think this is the part where people will either love it or hate it. There is an abundance of graphic violence and graphic sex in this book, which I think in its raw presentation adds to the philosophical musings of the book, but I could understand if others thought of it as gratuitous. The fight scenes in this book are brutal and have been very well constructed, so if you are an action-oriented reader I think there will be plenty for you to enjoy in this book. That said, this is a slow paced book, one that carefully examines different situations, one where chapters overlap so that you can experience events from different points of view. This didn't bother me, but it is a change from all the lightning paced books I've been reading and it is something I think you should be aware of going into this book. There is some great action, but there is a lot of talking and introspection in between.
“Glad you did that,” he said in his thick Ulomi accent. “Been looking for a fight all night. It’s too polite, this city.”
I haven't read a book this deep in quite some time. No Return is a book of contrasts, a book that not only shows the extreme ends of an argument, but all the shades of grey in between. If you are looking for a fun Sunday afternoon read then you might want to keep looking, but those who are looking for an entertaining yet challenging book, I think you will love No Return.
This No Return book review was written by Ryan Lawler
Have you read No Return?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
No Return reader reviews
9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothi...
Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels ag...
The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boun...
Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen – from the Pres...
Oryx and Crake
Snowman may be the last man on earth, the only survivor of an unnamed apocalypse. Once he was Jimmy, a member of a scientific elite; now he lives in bitter isolation and lo...
The Last Man Standing
Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo wa...
The Drowned World
Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows ...
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
John Joseph Adams
Famine, death, war, pestilence. These are said to be the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse-Armageddon. The End of the World. Whether by nuclear warfare, a biological di...
The Crystal World
Through a ‘leaking’ of time, the West African jungle starts to crystallize. Trees metamorphose into enormous jewels. Crocodiles encased in second glittering ski...
Emily St John Mandel
What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty. One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whil...
An illness spreads through an unnamed city. It has only one symptom: blindness. It comes without fanfare, pain, or warning. One moment a man waits in his car at the traffic...
The Reapers are the Angels
God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe... Older than her years and completely alone, Temp...
Legends of the Red Sun
Mark Charan Newton
An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur. It’s a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where banshe...
The Return Man
The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness. They call it the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco ma...
A modern Britain. An age-old cruelty. Britain's magically skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years - and now it's the Hadleys' turn...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
What are Strungballs? Ten-year-old Sydney is about to find out... but first he must have a cube of his flesh removed. Sydney will transgress everything he was taught to believ...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own. New alliances and old feuds will remake the natio...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...