Tenebray Press (2019)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (11/19)
“Reaper Moon: Race War in the Post Apocalypse” by Ted Neill is an eerie, what-if, sci-fi novel with elements of horror that are so petrifying, you just might find yourself thinking about it at all hours of the day and night, long after you turn the last page.
The setting is the not-to-distant future and most of the world, as in billions of people, have been wiped out by HEDV, the human epidermis deterioration virus. There is a small population of people that survived through an immunity to the virus – those that carry an abnormal copy of the gene that causes sickle cell disease. Most of the surviving population are people of color, with only a small percentage of white people who carry the gene. Of the white population remaining, there is a growing faction of white supremacists determined to regain their place as the “superior” race. It’s the end of the world folks, and a time when the people wiped out by HEDV just might be the lucky ones.
I finished reading this book a couple of weeks before I sat down to write this review. I typically write my reviews within a few days of reading a book so the story is still fresh in my mind, but I needed to set this one aside and let my thoughts marinate, if you will. Just a bit of self-disclosure – if the book is well-written I can embrace just about any genre, in other words, I have a wide reading lens. While I love to read a great novel, romance, mystery, etc., I also have a dark side, and post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels rank high on must-read list. “Reaper Moon” is up there as one of the top books I’ve ever read. I loved it, but admittedly, it’s not for everyone.
Is it politically and emotionally charged? Yes! Is it offensive? Yes! Did it need to be written that way? In my opinion, yes! True, the author could have dumbed-down the narrative, made it politically correct and easier on everyone’s conscience to read, but to do so would be a dishonest representation of this apocalyptic world and the characters struggling for survival. Kudos to Ted Neill for staying true to himself and to the story. It is apparent every single detail written was thoroughly researched, from the characters attitudes to their dialogue. I cannot even imagine the work that must have gone into producing this story.
I will say, “Reaper Moon” is not for those with a sensitive stomach or disposition. It is grisly and crude and excruciatingly vivid. You know the saying about not being able to “unsee” certain things? The author paints crystal clear scenes of abuse, torture and vicious dehumanization that will certainly stay with the reader for some time. Many scenes are more frightening than any horror novel I’ve ever read in that it’s not so hard to imagine something like this actually happening if humanity continues down the self-destructive path of hate that divides the world today.
The characters are amazing. Many secondary characters come and go as do in times of war, but even these characters are well defined by behavior and motivation giving the reader a real sense of who they are and what they represent. Some of the more major characters absolutely blew me away. I loved the strong, take-no-crap females, hated the white supremist reptiles with a passion, was heartbroken for the children, and thoroughly disgusted with the militant, self-righteous religious wackos twisting the Bible to suit their own sadistic agendas. The point is, Neill made me FEEL something about each and every character. Excellent character development.
Overall, I highly recommend “Reaper Moon” by Ted Neill for those who love sci-fi, dystopian, fantasy, and especially post-apocalyptic and military sci-fi. Plan to settle in for the ride – it’s not a read-in-one-sitting novel but quite lengthy and will take some time to read and digest. The writing is some of the best I’ve seen in a long time, and the storyline is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It would also make an amazing movie.