Omega Zero, by Ryan Henry, brings back a necessary niche long absent from literature: the novella. A post-apocalyptic novella to be precise, a genre that has recently been flooded by self-help manuals disguised as literature. Too many novels are filled with hundreds of pages describing meaningless sub-plots or vain attempts to boost up a mediocre plot. The reader does not need a twenty page description of a minor character’s choice of firearm. We need to know that it shoots, perhaps accurately or not, perhaps a make and model if it helps. Many authors betray themselves by including their own extremely specific personalities into the stories that they right. The benefit of humanity however, is that we are all different. A good author can look past his own preferences to reach out to a wider audience or better still, look for generalities in himself that appeal to others. Omega Zero accomplishes this. The fact that our “hero” Trent Hazen is a former drug dealer makes the story so much more delightful. The almost split personality that arises when Trent finds himself alone is delicious. As anyone who has spent any significant time alone can attest, this is a natural occurrence without the world falling apart. In the absence of companionship, we often create our own.
Our hero does eventually find an actual companion but when facing the end of the world, any relationship can become strained, including those with strangers. The outcome of all this straining is that Omega Zero is filled with what seems an extraordinary amount of adult language. This does subside the further one reads and we can hopefully chalk it up to our hero’s former lifestyle since he is the one spewing most of these epithets. The story takes place in the South, in the mountains…cue banjo music. The obligatory Bible-thumping hillbilly scenes are included. One may hope these characters are somewhat tongue-in-cheek humor although their treatment did seem a bit overdone. One final warning: this is a realistic novel that contains the reactions of a drug-dealer and several gang members to an “end of the world, we are the only survivors” scenario. There is extreme violence and the previous mentioned language. A movie would be completely rated R. The novel is not a hopeless one and becomes touching at times as we watch our protagonist work through the unimaginable complexities that are thrust at him. I will not include a spoiler but if you read most of the book, please finish it.
The story felt rushed at times and although I believe in the resurgence of the short novel, I truly hope the author decides to turn this into a full length novel or at least write a part two, give some of those Old Testament Mountain Men a chance to redeem themselves.Available for Nook or Kindle: January, 2013