Review: TJ Klune – Withered and Sere

witheredAuthor: TJ Klune
Reviewer: Sandra
Publisher: DSP Publications
Genre: MM Dystopian

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary: Once upon a time, humanity could no longer contain the rage that swelled within, and the world ended in a wave of fire.

One hundred years later, in the wasteland formerly known as America, a broken man who goes only by the name of Cavalo survives. Purposefully cutting himself off from what remains of civilization, Cavalo resides in the crumbling ruins of the Northern Idaho Correctional Institution. A mutt called Bad Dog and a robot on the verge of insanity comprise his only companions. Cavalo himself is deteriorating, his memories rising like ghosts and haunting the prison cells.

It’s not until he makes the dangerous choice of crossing into the irradiated Deadlands that Cavalo comes into contact with a mute psychopath, one who belongs to the murderous group of people known as the Dead Rabbits. Taking the man prisoner, Cavalo is forced not only to face the horrors of his past, but the ramifications of the choices made for his stark present. And it is in the prisoner that he will find a possible future where redemption is but a glimmer that darkly shines.

The world has died.

This is the story of its remains.
Review: I need to think on this a bit before I can write a review or decide on a star rating. Cliffhangers are a funny thing. Sometimes, they are a wonderful ending to a book that leaves you eager for book two and what it will bring. But sometimes… it just feel like your book got cut in half with a big middle finger on the last page. As the page numbers slowly dwindled I couldn’t figure out how things would be wrapped up, but I kept reading and reading and readingbecause I wanted some closure. I wanted some answers. I wanted some development. Aaaaand, I don’t really feel like I got that.

But I’m still tempted into a higher rating because it is a wonderful book. It’s beautifully written, and I could lean towards five stars on Cavalo’s relationship with Bad Dog alone. Or even just Bad Dog himself, talk about an amazing secondary character. But it is also one of those books that are so beautifully written that you frequently find yourself thinking “That sounds lovely, but wait what the fuck just happened? What does that actually mean?”

And I’m still not sure why this is classified as MM, it’s not at all necessary to the story at this point. I can obviously see the impending relationship but be warned dear reader, do not expect more than the tiniest hint of a promise of a possibility of a future something. I want that for Cavalo. I want him to heal. I want the bees to quiet. And I love that this rag-tag group of crazies has found each other.

But god damn you Cliffhanger! Not gonna lie, if I had been forewarned, I’d have waited for book 2 to be out before reading this. Although TJ does show us pity and tell us that book 2 is already written, so at least the wait shouldn’t be too long.

What can I say? The cliffhanger rage has died down a little as I wrote this, so I can step back and realize I’m still gonna give it 4 stars. TJ weaves a beautifully desolate world with an odd dichotomy in that the past was the future. The way people live is set against their knowledge of what was and what could be. But what has been, will be again, and we’ll all have to wait for book 2 for the fallout.

DSP Publications

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