Apocalypse for Beginners
February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Nicolas Dickner has created a quirky coming-of-age tale. The narrator, a young man (whose name we don’t find out for many chapters), is our Nick Carraway reporting on Hope Randall, an extraordinary young woman from a long line of apocalypse-predictors. This tale is set in the mid-80s and takes us through to the 90s. The verisimilitude displayed by Dickner is phenomenal. I read along faithfully, staying up until midnight to finish this tale, enjoying the opening scenes where Mickey meets Hope in an abandoned baseball stadium where she’s teaching herself Russian and their life together as Hope is informally adopted by the family. Hope is a unique and terrifying individual–despite the lack of onset of her menses, which would predict the end of the world for the Randall women, Hope obsesses over a particular date when she thinks she can find the date in a more mathematically elegant way than her mother, a brilliant woman gone mad.
I admit, there are portions of the story that don’t make sense–these are portions when we are reading about Hope and she has separated herself from Mickey in her quest to discover the man who also predicted the end of the world on the same date she chose. There are too manydeus ex machinamoments, too many “lucky” or just unexplainable happenstances for my own complete and thorough enjoyment.
I still recommend you read this tale though. Despite the unraveling storyline towards the end, where it felt as if Dickner ran out of plausible reasons for things happening so he just made them up–and I can’t attribute them to Hope or her own unraveling sanity because we, or I, have been trained to trust this narrator, and the way things are written they don’t leave open other explanations–the story is still an enjoyable read.