Blank: Mind the gap by Matt Eaton
One of the advantages of travelling for work is that there’s a lot of hanging about at airports and hotels, which is great for catching up on some reading. As a result, I managed to blast through the excellent Blank: Mind the Gap in one day.
Blank is set in the near future two months after a double catastrophe has struck the world and brought humanity to its knees. The first is a seismic event that has risen sea levels by several metres and devastated the coastal and inland cities. The second a huge solar event causing an EMP pulse which has fried not only anything electrical, but also the brains of most of the surviving population (the ‘blanks’ referred to in the title). With America and China blaming each other for the flood, and nuclear conflict looming, Australia finds itself in the middle and unsure what side to choose.
The story focuses on an Aboriginal ex-special forces soldier turned rescuer Stone Luckman, who has an uncanny knack of finding people amongst the rubble. One of the women he rescues, the enigmatic Mel, seems to have been waiting for him for several days despite not knowing who he is.
To help to avert the coming war, Luckman (with Mel and his pilot friend Bell in tow) is sent on a secret mission to a remote town but when he arrives, it becomes clear that something is very wrong. I won’t go into any more of the plot because of potential spoliers; one of the thing I enjoyed immensely about this novel is that the story isn’t quite what you might assume from reading the blurb. What starts as a fairly straight-forward concept soon morphs into something else entirely, dealing with topics like the nature of human consciousness and Aboriginal cultural myths. There’s a distinct ‘Lost’ flavour to certain things (when Lost was good I mean!) and lots of revelations punctuating some exciting set pieces. The story also deals with the derogatory attitudes of the white population to the Aboriginals and some of the history behind it. Being from the UK, what I learned of Australian colonial history at school was very filtered, so it was interesting to read about other points of view.
Most of the story is written from Luckman’s point of view (with the occasional dip into Mel’s and the odd minor character), which gives the early global events a much-needed personal touch. We learn a lot about his past, motivations and character as the story progresses, making him an interesting, realistic and relatable character. One very minor criticism is that Mel seems to be a bit too good at a few too many things when the plot demands it (in fact they both do) but that’s nick-picking at the extreme. The plot is very well paced and although the term ‘page-turner’ is a bit twee and overused these days I found the book very difficult to put down until I’d finished it.
One of the (nice I guess) problems of reading novels from new or less-established authors is that many of the stories seem to be the first part of a series, and so I have to wait for the next one to be written to add to my selection of future purchases. Blank: Mind the Gap just hit the top of that list.
I loved this book and would highly recommend it.
Disclaimer and disclosure. This book was bought by me from Amazon.co.uk through BooksGoSocial.com. All opinions are my own, and I am receiving no payment for the review, either by financial or review-swap means.