Feb 7, 2008

Book Review: Twilight by Brendan DuBois

Just finished writing a review of Twilight, a futuristic thriller by Brendan DuBois, about the UN occupation of America after civil war breaks out as a result of nuclear attacks on America's major cities. The novel creates a Sarajevo in the U.S., with militant groups at war with the government to control the country and the scarce food and fuel.

A thriller that is none too pleasant to read, but interesting nevertheless.

Picture yourself in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, around the early 1990s, after the break-up of Yugoslavia into separate entities, when Bosnian Serbs fought with Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats for supremacy and for territory in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Picture the genocide or “ethnic cleansing” that resulted when Serbs tried to rid the land of Bosnian Muslims.

Then transfer this scenario to the United States, with the U.S. government powerless after nuclear attacks on its major cities, citizens at war with each other over scarce resources such as energy and food, and bands of armed and organized militia fighting the government to take control of the chaotic land, all the while getting rid of “undesirable” members of the population, in their own form of “cleansing.”

Envisioning this scenario will put you right smack in the middle of the thriller, Twilight. We view the situation in the U.S. through the eyes of Samuel Simpson, a young Canadian photographer who has joined the UN organization trying to keep the peace in the embattled country. He is with UNFORUS and with a group of people whose goal is to find Site A, proof of genocide committed by the militia which will serve to convict U.S. war criminals being held in The Hague.

There is a time limit, as the criminals will be released if Site A and proof of mass murder is not found in time. Samuel and his group have to tread carefully through dangerous situations involving the militia, who have murdered civilians as well as UN personnel.

There is definitely a lot of intrigue built into the plot of this novel, as the UN group literally treads on ground they have not seen before, in situations that are unpredictable and frightening. Written with gripping detail and description of countryside, surroundings, and events, the book presents a challenging situation that is gloomy in its forecast.

There is little sense of poignancy in the book, except for an old man who puts his life at risk to help the UN group. The attempt at a love story between Samuel and team member essentially falls flat, thought it is meant to be a saving grace for Samuel in the middle of the turmoil. We are not caught up in his feelings. Indeed, his love interest is not a well developed character.

A good thriller, but don’t expect to be fully satisfied at the end of the book.

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