Categories: Literary Fiction, Dystopia
In Severance, the world has collapsed into apocalypse after fungal spores infected and slowly killed everyone. Inexplicably, Candace survived, and so did a few other people, who she joined in an attempt to survive.
Disclaimer: Due to current events, if you find the content of the book to be potentially triggering for you, definitely give it a pass. I did not find it was a problem for me, and found comfort in a story that had parallels, but was very different, to our situation and had no stakes on my real life. This is however a very personal experience and I don’t recommend everyone read it at this time.
This is a surprisingly beautiful and character-driven book, unlike any other apocalypse story I’ve ever read. Candace joins a group of other survivors, who have not showed symptoms of the strange disease that slowly kills its victims, taking away their consciousness until they perform nothing but their muscle memory routines, stuck serving dinner, or getting ready to go to work, for weeks and weeks until they starve to death. What starts as a survival measure, slowly turns into a cult and Candace is in more danger than she knows.
The book tells the story in two timelines, the present, where Candace is with the group during the apocalypse, and the past, a few months just before, where she worked in a boring job, and as things unfurl, she is still expected to take whatever commute is available, go to work, clock in, clock out, even as her work thins out as everyone around keeps dying. It was actually pretty interesting, especially by comparing with how things are being done now in face of the pandemic. This is where the novel really shines: showing capitalism failing to protect people, putting economy first, turning a health crisis into something to be made fashionable and profitable somehow. I don’t love the two narratives interrupting each other, but I never like non-linear narratives, and it makes perfect sense why it’s done this way when you get to the end of the book, so I didn’t mind much!
This was a very unique, exquisite novel and one of my favorite reads of this year!