One of the things I truly like about the science fiction genre is the time I can spend in worlds that have atmospheres that can totally make you forget your surroundings. Books or movies that contain designs that are so lifelike that you are completely immersed in them and feel like you are actually, at least for a while, truly in a totally convincing different reality. Some of these you might feel at home at, and wish you could stay in forever. But then there are those that strike fear in you. That you want to escape from as soon as you encounter them, even though in a strange way they beckon you straight back in. What is it about those kind of worlds that fascinate us though? Well, then again maybe it’s just me that’s fascinated by them, because really most sane people usually avoid things that scare the crap out of them. But what happens when someone creates a reality that is both scary and beautiful at the same time? A world that looks a bit like ours, but also at the same time is so far removed from what we call normal that it can only be imagined. Today I’m presenting you with a book that is so special, that I actually have nothing to compare it too. And that doesn’t happen to me very often. It’s called The Electric State, and it’s a book that took me perhaps on the strangest and most hauntingly beautiful journey that I have ever taken in my life.
So what exactly is The Electric State? It’s difficult to describe a book that for me almost felt like a real journey in some ways. A trip one takes, and one that stays with you forever, and you want to relive again and again. This is a book that’s set into a post apocalyptic 1997 and focusses on a girl called Michelle. The book is narrated by her for the most part, and it tells the tale of her voyage through the western United States while she is on the search for something or someone. I’m keeping this a mystery with a purpose as the less you know about it, the more you will enjoy it. On her roadtrip in a stolen car she is not alone, but accompanied by a toy robot called Skip. As the story progresses you begin to find out more about her but also what has happened in the world itself. As you will soon see this is not the America that we know today. The landscape itself is littered with the ruins of gigantic battle drones, and humanity itself is, well…also not completely itself. In case you are wondering, no there are no zombies or anything like that involved. Suffice it to say that a great calamity has befallen the human race, and most of them are under the influence of that.
The story of this book is cleverly written and especially near the end has a great twist that I at least did not see coming in any way. At certain times Michelle’s story get’s interrupted by a few segments that tell more of the background of the world. However so far this still sounds like a pretty regular book I can hear you say. And well, you would be right except for one thing. This book has almost 100 amazingly detailed illustrations that I for one have never seen the like of before. I have tried to give you a small impression of these by including a few of them in this post, but trust me when I say that these pictures don’t do the real thing justice. They are without exception breathtaking pieces of art, that are almost photo realistic. It’s this feature that makes the book so incredibly unique. These spreads truly bring the world to life, and create an unparalleled atmosphere that you can honestly only experience when you see them for yourself. With each turn of the page my mouth (at times literally) dropped open in total amazement by the talent of this artist, and not to mention the incredible imagination that this man has by being able to create these kind of images.
Usually when a book is this good you can’t put it away, but in this case the opposite was the case. Not because it wasn’t good, but simply because I wanted to savour each and every moment, I found myself postponing to finish the book. I simply did not want to leave his world too soon. One thing I also want to make clear is that this is not a kid’s book. The story is without a doubt pretty dark, especially at certain moments, and a couple of the images while still very beautiful also gave me the chills. I cannot bring myself to say anything negative about this book. One could say that at times the story was a bit hard to follow and you couldn’t always grasp exactly what happened to cause the world to decline fully. But then again, that only deepened the mystery, and it’s also nice there was some room for readers to form their own thoughts and views. The Electric State is a book that I cannot recommend enough. If you want to read (and see) something that is totally unique, and you have a love for science fiction and post apocalyptic worlds, this is one that you should really give a try. I very much doubt that you will be disappointed by this book. I for one, plan to take many more trips to Simon’s world in the future.
I give The Electric State a 10 out of 10 score.