A few thoughts on the end-of-days premise: whether it’s zombies or disease or a natural disaster, authors create these situations to produce an immediate external conflict. One that can divide or unite, one that tests and may change their characters. Authors’ purposes for writing in this type of speculative fiction are as varied as the implement, but many times it is to expose man’s sins. Granted, I enjoy this genre quite a bit, but sometimes it’s too easy for authors to write in it but not fully explain their complete analogy. This is not the case with Jason Mott in his new novel, The Crossing.
Twins Virginia and Tommy are stuck in a world that is breaking apart. A disease that first struck the elderly is now creeping to consume a younger and younger demographic. Nations have closed their borders and started to fight one another for what power is left. Seventeen and threatened by the military draft, the siblings have decided to flee their foster father and begin a journey to witness the launch of a probe to Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. The launch provides the hope that the people of America and the world need, the possibility of a new planet, one that may have the ability to sustain life. Tommy is almost resigned to enlist, but Virginia believes this road trip is necessary.
I filled my notes for this review with remarkable lines from Mott’s writing. He uses outstanding metaphors that explicate the feelings of the his apocalypse so eloquently, and they do well to counter the helplessness that pervades the characters’ lives. He has a knack for creating memorable character, especially the characters the twins meet along their journey. And his play with memory in the two main characters advances a unique series of twists.
The narrative is broken up by the intertwining of two creative threads, short vignettes telling the stories of others plagued by the disease, and letters to the twins from their dead father. This layering creates depth and drives several different story lines at once. I do have to say that at times The Crossing is more of a contemplative read, with current action taking the backseat to the characters’ reflections, but it is those questions that create the tension and fuel the impetus for that action to break.
In Jason Mott’s The Crossing tension is created in the reader’s desire for Virginia to find something outside herself and her brother, something tangible or intangible, anything that will create a desire to move forward. She has the hope of a young cynic, the love of her brother, and the dream of a better planet. The premise is utilized with skill and the reader will ultimately get the pay off in the end. This is a deserving read and a solid addition to this genre.
4 out of 5 stars.
Releases on May 15th.
Thank you to NetGalley, Park Row Books, and Jason Mott for the advanced copy for review.