Review: Lie of the Land – Michael F Russell.

What happens when you’re an investigative journalist, you go to meet someone, and the world as it exists happens to crash around you? Well, Lie of the Land considers exactly that. Carl Shewan is in the coastal village of Inverlair, and for a city boy, the remote prison is pretty hellish.

Technology has put the world to sleep, and he’s one of the ‘lucky’ ones not to be in those zones. He could have seen it coming, should have seen it coming, and others view him with general suspicion. It doesn’t help when he gets someone pregnant and refuses to deal with it. I’ve always liked the idea of a Scottish dystopia, and this one isn’t too far in the future. 1984 is the backdrop, but you never really see that – you’ve got your eye on how a small town who’ve been inadvertently shielded from the main attack survive, cut off from the rest of the world, twelve cups to a teabag. You like to think you’d be good in these situations, but bit by bit, you can see everything fall apart and wonder, how would the world go? It doesn’t seem so far removed, the more you read.

You’ve got small-town life for a city boy, apocalyptic-sounding triggers, then extreme ends of the spectrum of human nature (from fatherhood to savage attacks) at play. How do they react? Law can go out the window, aimless wanderlust can be rife, mourning plagues many.

In theory, this all sounds good, but it’s all handled in a very slapdash manner. It feels lazy. The time jumps can throw you off at first, and many characters appear flat. Everyone had one main trait to cause a certain reaction and that was kind of it. It ended abruptly, and I felt no important answers had even been tackled. It’s unsettling in that it isn’t too far in the future, it isn’t wholly farfetched, and it makes you wonder, but if anything, the concept is promising, and that’s it. You don’t like or dislike the characters, you just simply find it hard to invest yourself in them.


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