Radio Dark by Shane Hinton
I have conflicted feelings over Shane Hinton’s Radio Dark. There are some aspects I appreciated but have been confused or frustrated with some of its choices. On the surface, this story is about society’s descent into the apocalypse: all of humankind are catching some kind of ‘condition’ where they fall into an irreversible catatonic state. They stare silently into space, and no longer have any need for food or drink. They simply exist. We view this nightmarish scenario through the eyes of a man named Memphis, who is a custodian at a suburban Florida radio station. As this sickness starts to spread, an FCC employee named Cincinnati, the only other named character in the story, visits the radio station and begins to enact emergency procedures. She appears to be the first in the area to know about the oncoming ‘condition’ and partners with Memphis to try and salvage what they can from the fast-dwindling community.
The above premise of the book intrigued me. However, as the story progressed, there were several questionable plot developments that didn’t quite sit well with me. First, there were a few instances of situational comedy that seemed incredibly forced. They felt like weird tonal shifts that did not line up with Hinton’s subdued writing style. Hinton’s prose borders on minimal, using short sentences that inform the reader of just the facts. “A walked here. B shot the basketball. The ball bounced towards the sewer grate.” The reader is never privy to what’s going on inside any of these characters’ heads, and we’re left to determine the character’s feelings and motivations by their actions. Yet the characters move about like emotionless drones. Perhaps the author is arguing that the catatonic victims are not that far removed from the current state of man, but this does not line up with the other messages the story is trying to tell.
Religion plays a substantial role in the story. There is a community preacher who spreads the word about how human communication is sinful, and that humans should not speak. Radio communication is an act against God, silence is next to godliness, and mankind should return to the ocean. His congregation is made up of both living and catatonic members, but everyone is silent, so we are unable to tell who has the condition. As Memphis and Cincinnati build a new communication tower to bring survivors to their community, some of the preacher’s warnings become reality: Memphis begins to suffer injuries that he cannot recover from. Months go by and the scab on his lip doesn’t heal. Then his hands become infected. Then things get worse. This seems like it could be an allegory, that there’s an underlying message about whether human communication is good or bad, but the book never makes it clear. Aren’t our communicative abilities a major part of what makes us human? If the book is arguing that sharing ideas is a bad thing, then shouldn’t this book never have been written?
The story becomes less and less clear towards the end. Plot developments veer into obscure territory. Survivors continue to fall victim to the condition. Memphis and Cincinnati experience some terrible ordeals, and the situation looks bleaker by the day. After some predictably terrible events ensue, the story just… ends. If there’s a lesson to be learned, I cannot say.
Hinton’s writing seems clearly influenced by the works of Cormac McCarthy: a dystopian atmosphere, desolate and rife with misery, delivered with a dry prose that intends to elicit emotion through its atmosphere. But the message of the story never comes into focus, and any semblance of understanding its intention becomes more bewildering by the story’s end. This is a short novel and it moves rather quickly, so if the above premise sounds interesting, then you might enjoy it. But it’s confusing resolution and its inability to present clear arguments left me wanting.
eARC provided by Edelweiss
This Radio Dark book review was written by Adam Weller
Have you read Radio Dark?
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.
Radio Dark reader reviews
5.5/10 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
The Girl and the Stars
A stunning new epic fantasy series following a young outcast who must fight with everything she has to survive, set in the same world as Red Sister....
Spensa's world has been under attack for hundreds of years. An alien race called the Krell leads onslaught after onslaught from the sky in a never-ending campaign to de...
The Obernewtyn Chronicles
In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities, it is also dangerous. Survival is only ...
Cirque du Freak
Darren Shan seems like your average boy--he likes playing football with his mates, passing notes in class and loves spiders. Then, one day, his best mate Steve gets tickets...
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies t...
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to dest...
Following Peter Newman’s brilliant debut, THE VAGRANT. This is the much-anticipated sequel, THE MALICE.In the south, the Breach stirs.Gamma’s swor...
Ever since the floods came and washed the world away, survivors have been desperate to win a place on X Isle, the island where life is rumoured to be easier than on what...
The Testament of Jessie Lamb
Women are dying in their millions. Some blame scientists, some see the hand of God. As she watches her world collapsing, Jessie Lamb decides she wants to make her life coun...
Great fantasy books published in 2019
A Brightness Long Ago
Guy Gavriel Kay
International bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay's latest work is set in a world evoking early Renaissance Italy and offers an extraordinary cast of characters whose li...
The Raven Tower
For centuries the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by a god known as the Raven. But in their hour of need, the Raven speaks nothing to its people. It is into this unres...
The 10,000 Doors of January
Alix E Harrow
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut....
The Priory of the Orange Tree
A world divided.A queendom without an heir.An ancient enemy awakens.The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen S...
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.Meet Dodger, his twin. Numb...
A Little Hatred
War. Politics. Revolution. The Age of Madness has arrived... The chimneys of industry rise over Adua and the world seethes with new opportunities. But old scores run deep a...
Beneath the Twisted Trees
Çeda was an elite warrior in service to the kings of Sharakhai. She has been an assassin in dark places. A weapon poised to strike from the shadows. A voice from the...
The Hod King
Thomas Senlin and his crew of outcasts have been separated, and now they must face the dangers of the labyrinthine tower on their own in this third book in the word...
Nona Grey’s story reaches its shattering conclusion in the third instalment of Book of the Ancestor.THEY CAME AGAINST HER AS A CHILD. NOW THEY FACE THE WOMAN....
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: