Author: Frank Tayell
Genre: Sci-Fi / Thriller
I must say, I’m really starting to like Frank Tayell. I first came across him when I read Surviving the Evacuation: London and learned that it is actually possible for someone to write a decent zombie novel. Separate to the Surviving the Evacuation series this book caught my eye. I like a good post-apocalyptic story, and I enjoy a little mystery and suspense, so I decided to see whether Mr Tayell was more than a one trick pony and give it a go.
Once again I was very pleasantly surprised. At 168 pages Work. Rest. Repeat. isn’t a particularly long novel and I got through it in a single sitting, but despite its short length it held my attention from beginning to end with a world that was well-developed and characters who were genuinely interesting.
The world has gone to pot. 60 years ago the Great Disaster occurred, rendering the vast majority of the Earth uninhabitable. Nobody, reader and characters alike, is entirely clear on what the Great Disaster was, but it really dealt the planet a few harsh blows. At first the air became toxic to breathe and the land was left as a barren husk, but at the time the book takes place the planet has shifted to the opposite extreme where the sky is perpetually blanketed by clouds, the rain is so hard you cannot actually breathe if you go outside, hurricane-force winds are always blowing, and what little land is left is slowly being eaten away at by the rising ocean.
What little remains of humanity exists in three cities spread across the globe; our story takes place in the City of Britain, a city comprised of interconnected towers protected by flood barriers to keep the sea at bay. Life in the towers is entirely centred around mankind’s last desperate hope for survival: to build evacuation ships that will take them off Earth and allow them to form workable colonies on Mars. Any deviation or disruption to productivity can result in a death sentence or being shipped off to the launch pads to work on the actual construction of the evacuation ships.
This is where our main character, Ely, comes in. He’s the constable for the Tower he lives in, and must ensure that the population is kept in check and that productivity comes before everything else. With an election coming up to decide on the Tower’s new Chancellor Ely needs to keep everything in order if he is to earn the support of the favoured candidate and secure himself a spot on the first ship to Mars. The plan is upset when, for the first time in the Tower’s history, a murder takes place, and Ely is entrusted with finding the killer before the election takes place the next day. What starts out as a reasonably simple investigation ends in a conspiracy that threatens the entire system upon which life in the Tower is built and Ely must decide whether discovering the truth really is in humanity’s best interest.
The Writing Style
Credit to Frank Tayell for writing in a way that is an absolute dream to read. Sometimes you read a book and, while the story might be genuinely interesting and even gripping, it requires will power to actually follow along with what is being said. That isn’t the case here; Tayell’s writing style is quite simple in the best possible way, which means you can just keep reading without ever becoming tangled up in what’s being said or what’s going on.
Right from the very beginning of this book you know that something isn’t quite right. The earliest example comes when Ely mentions that he loves movies. What confuses him is that, although every television and display in the Tower is fully colourised and quite high-tech, meaning that such technology was available when the Tower was built, nobody prior to the Great Disaster thought to make a movie in colour. Then there’s the fact that the Great Disaster took place 60 years ago, which isn’t a really long time, but it isn’t within the living memory of anyone in the Tower, even the older inhabitants. The murders come as quite a shock because everyone else in the Tower has always died of natural causes, usually by dying in their sleep. Obviously because this is the only life he has ever known Ely doesn’t question any of this, but as the reader these tiny little clues start to make you wonder just what the hell is going on. Whilst I’m usually rubbish at predicting things based on the evidence a book or movie provides me, I had recently watched Syfy’s Ascension, which gave me a fairly good idea of where this was going. Was still pleasantly surprised by the ending though.
In addition to the lingering doubts in your mind as you’re reading the story, the world of Work. Rest. Repeat. is incredibly bleak. Nobody owns anything anymore (this is a conscious decision to ensure people do not become attached to the Tower before they leave for Mars), there is no solid food (instead you are treated to processed algae that provides all the nutrients you’ll ever need), every movement and every inch of liveable space in the Tower is under constant surveillance, and there is only one window that will show the outside world (not that the outside world is anything to look at). This all adds wonderfully to the plot since, when you find out what’s going on behind the conspiracy, you really do have to wonder exactly what would be best for the few remaining human survivors in the Tower.
After reading this I will say that I was thoroughly impressed, and look forward to reading whatever else Frank Tayell decides to throw our way in future.
My Final Rating: 9/10
Buy Work. Rest. Repeat. on Amazon.com