Afterland is about the Manpocalypse. How could I not pick up a book about the Manpocalypse? (And yes, they really call it that in the book.) Anyway, we follow a mother, Cole, and her son, Miles, across the country as they attempt to flee back to their homeland. They are being chased by Cole’s crazy sister Billy, who wants to sell Miles’s boy-specific-body-fluids on the black market, and the goverment, sort of. I say sort of because the goverment, disappointingly, doesn’t come much in to play in the present timeline.
Now before I start this review, I want to say that I mostly enjoyed this book. The writing was hard-hitting and edgy. The characters were flawed and sympathetic. The story moves along at a good clip most of the time. However Beukes’s books always seem to leave me unsatisfied. I feel like they are blurbed and advertised in a way that promises something the books never deliver on.
In this case, it was the world building. I wanted to know what the world looked like with most of the men gone. I wanted to know what happened to all those male-dominated fields. Did commercial air travel come to a dead halt? What about construction? Was there some sort of emergency training program to get women involved in those fields? What happened to some of the immune men? Am I to believe they are all under government protection? They didn’t go off on their own and start a cult where they were worshipped by women? Or worse, abducted and held prisoner? I don’t know. I just wanted to see more. I wanted a tour of what the world looked like post-Manpocalypse and we’re given a frustratingly narrow view.
There is a point, about midway, where Cole and Miles encounter a religious cult. The plot seems to slow quite a bit here and begins a lot of preaching about God and His plans which grew tiresome for me very quickly.
Otherwise I enjoyed this for the most part. I think if you go into it knowing you won’t be getting to see all those things I was hoping for, you could enjoy it. The writing was the best part for me and in places reminiscent of The Mere Wife, but unfortunately falls just short of the mark of being a great book.