Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
Book of the Year 2005 (see all)
It’s 2033 and the human race has obliterated itself. A few thousand survivors managed to get underground into the Moscow metro to escape the radiation and there is no way for them to know if anybody else on the planet had survived. Decades later the metro is their entire life - stations are city states where ideologies take hold and cartridges for guns are currency.
Artyom, a young man who can barely remember what is was like to be on the surface, lives in one of the northernmost stations of the metro. VDNKh is a bulwark against the mutant threat that creeps down the tunnel from above - a station that is home to Artyom until one day a man called Hunter appears who sees something within him, something which makes him task Artyom with an incredible journey through the various stations and populations of the Moscow metro.
Now and again a story will turn up which hits you like a ton of bricks, and Metro 2033 did that to me. This is, without the faintest shadow of a doubt, the best post-apocalyptic fiction book that I have ever read, and also one of the best fantasy books I have ever read. It reminded me partly of Lord of the Rings in that a young man has to take a vital and seemingly impossible task upon himself and travel though a whole range of varied dangers to reach a goal, and during this torturous task meet a range of friends and adversaries who may help or hinder in unexpected ways - growing and learning more about human nature as he goes. It also reminded me very strongly of the Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker, which I would be surprised if this wasn’t an influence on Glukhovsky as the men in Metro 2033 who head above ground at great risk to their own life to fetch fuel and materials are called stalkers.
This is a fascinating story which starts small in a cramped, dimly lit and constantly threatened metro station platform and expands outwards into an exploration of what it means to exist, what people will do to cling on to some semblance of life, and how people have adapted to such an unnatural state as being stuck underground.
As Artyom makes his journey towards the fabled city of Polis in the centre of the metro to find the man he was tasked with taking a message to, he comes across what may seem like a familiar problem with anybody who has to deal with a city underground system of how to get to where they need to go in the most efficient way. Living in London, where each station can have its own feel and with a glance you can recognise where you are just by the pattern of tiles on a wall, for me Artyom’s journey was strangely familiar but also thrillingly terrifying. For Artyom, a new station is like a whole different city and these city stations form alliances, declare war on one another, and fight not just against the monsters that descend from above but also one another. Where once the citizens of Moscow could cross the network in an hour, it now takes weeks of negotiation and constant battling against a whole range of dangers.
Metro 2033 isn’t just a journey with lots of crazy events along the way; it delves into the human psyche and explores the deepest fears of the human soul. Horrors are both psychological as well as physical and a simple walk along a tunnel from one platform to another can tear apart the mind if not kill a traveller outright. As Artyom delves deeper into the metro he meets groups battling over ideologies that seem ridiculous when so few people have to defend against so many threats, but which are carried over from the world above. The Fourth Reich is trying to extend its will to adjacent stations, whilst the Red Line run under a communist ideology struggles against a better equipped and maintained ring of stations called Hanse – a commonwealth capitalist utopia for those on the inside, but nearly impossible to enter from the outside. In addition there are stations constantly attacked from mutants from the surface, plagues can decimate stations, and some sections have been closed off and disappear into legend.
I would recommend this to anybody who likes fantasy, sci fi and horror and wants a very well written, immersive story with unnameable and unexplainable horrors lurking round each corner. It is a fascinating and claustrophobic exploration of a terrible future and how human nature adapts.
This Metro 2033 book review was written by Cat Fitzpatrick
Have you read Metro 2033?
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Metro 2033 reader reviews
Bruce from USA
My most favorite book of all times.
Tim from United Kingdom
I suspect it suffers in being translated. The English is idiomatic and stilted. The story, while atmospheric at times is slow and often dull. I found myself willing it on to the next bit and it could have done with some judicious editing. For better post-apocalyptic reads, take a glance at the helpful list compiled by this website below: 'More recommended reading in this genre'. There are at least four books in that list better than this one. You can add on 'Sand,' and the 'Silo' series by Hugh Howey to that list as well and a host of early sci-fi stuff.
Bryan Conforto from Australia
It’s a great premise – essentially, Metro 2033 is a modern-day Gulliver’s Travels in which Glukhovsky comments on the socio-political landscape of Russia. The metro has Nazis, radical Christians, Communists and more – none of whom are spared sharp examination.
Jacob from United Kingdom
A snapshot of humanity when everything is lost and all those left are desperate and the tradgery of how humanity has a skill for self destruction.
MK from Poland
Best of the best
Andrej from Germany
The absolutely best book I´ve ever read in my entire life... Very intense mindblowing passages which confront the reader with deep social problems and questions. Highly recommended as a real-world stuck fantasy book!
Fredrik from Norway
At first I thought this game wouldn't touch the gam, but the turned out to be better than the game. And the game is phenomenal. Can't wait to pick up 2034 soon.
Russ from United States
I'm only 3 chapters in but am totally hooked. Just wanted to add that I think the audio book is a great addition - very well narrated. For another $2 to get that on Amazon has been very worth it. Nice to alternate with listening and reading.
Daniil from Russia
I was really skeptical about this book and I simply couldn't imagine I would like it that much. It's one of the best book I've ever read.
Icyzappy from Canada
Quite a good read. There were times I couldn't fall asleep at night after reading this book. An imaginative universe contained within the Moscow metro system. I probably would have given it one star higher if not for the sloppy editing and many errors. But overall I'm very glad I read it.
Andrew from US
Freaking amazing. Just that, simply the best book out there.
8.9/10 from 12 reviews
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