I recently finished reading The Moon Hunters: A Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction Adventure by Anya Pavelle. I went into this book blind, meaning I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t read the synopses or any of the reviews. I find it more fun to do this with writers I haven’t read before. No preconceived notions to foul up my enjoyment of the story.
A quick spoiler-free overview: This is an adventure story told through three time frames. First, we get excerpts from an old journal that provides some of the backstory and context to the overall story. Next, we have our protagonist in the present telling her story to a stranger. And finally, we have the flashbacks to what led our protagonist to her current situation. Ms. Pavelle flowed seamlessly between all three, weaving them together to tell an interesting story.
And that leads me to the story itself. I found that even though the author uses established tropes, she does so in an original way. This makes the overall story feel brand new and not recycled. The main characters are fleshed out and intriguing. I could understand their motivations and emotions. None of it seemed forced or contrived. The only thing I would have liked to have seen is if she could have made the antagonist a little more sympathetic. He’s a bad guy, no doubt, and I understood his motivations, but I didn’t have any sympathy for him. I’m of the mind that when I have some sympathy for a villain it makes their downfall have more impact.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a solid novel, this is just a personal quirk I have for antagonists. You may feel otherwise.
The other thing that I really enjoyed about this story is how many elements Ms. Pavelle incorporates. There’s obviously a bit of post-apocalyptic sci-fi (which, incidentally, isn’t unrealistic in our current world), but there’s also political intrigue, romance, survival, history, religious extremism, and societal commentary. The island where most of the story takes place is a mini reflection of the whole world. This microcosm amplified all the weird quirks and silliness we deal with every day.
For example, one of the themes the novel discusses is the subjugation of women. I think most of us don’t notice this in our everyday lives, especially in what is considered “modern” countries. But while reading this story I began to think about everyday situations where women are marginalized. From a male perspective, I found this to be a powerful theme in the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to a sequel. The book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it does leave some unanswered questions that I’d love to see resolved. Until then, I’ll have to be patient.