Monstre [Volume One]

Duncan Swan

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Deep beneath the Switzerland/France border sits the Large Hadron Collider, built in the quest for answers to some of theoretical physics’ most elusive questions. It was supposed to be safe, but when a malfunctioning experiment explodes, all a rag-tag group of scientists can do is flee the facility and try to make it to safety. From the ruins of CERN, a black cloud begins to spread, marching slowly across the countryside, blocking out the sky, and bringing only death in its wake.

Monstre is told from the perspective of several characters over two mixed timelines. In France, we follow the immediate aftermath of the explosion, and the frantic battle to halt the advance of the cloud as it spreads inexorably across the continent, sowing the seeds of destruction as it goes. Three months later, we join a small group in the USA desperately trying to make their way to the West coast and the rumoured safe haven of a nuclear bunker, followed by the cloud as it encroaches from the east.

I was hooked from the first chapter, and the pages just flew by. Swan deftly combines the post-apocalypse ‘study-of-humanity’ genre with a rip-roaring military action and pulls it off perfectly. His characters are fully imagined and believable, and he writes with the ease and attention of a veteran writer, which is quite incredible when you discover that this is his debut novel. I will most definitely be searching out the next instalment.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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