Brian Evenson’s Immobility sounds like generic post-apocalyptic fare at first glance, but it is placed in very capable hands and is given a unique twist; not only does our main character, Josef, wake up in a ruined world not knowing who he is, but to make shit all the more post-apocalyptic, his legs don’t work.
As if The Walking Dead wasn’t harrowing enough, try doing it without legs.
Immobility is The Book of Eli meets The Land Before Time (the first one, pre-musical) – minus dinosaurs, Mila Kunis (and all other females), and legs – but the combination ends up being greater than the sum of its parts. Written in the third person, the style is as sparse as the tale’s ruined setting, and provides a closeness to Josef that feels like the book might have been written in the first person point of view in an early draft.
The book is driven by two questions; Who is Josef, and what the hell is he doing? These questions alone propelled me the complete the 253 page book in about a week. By the end of the book, not all questions are answered, but you have enough of an idea as to what has transpired in Josef’s life to close the book satisfied.
In a way this is an adventure book, but it is not high adventure. Much of the story is dark, brooding, and troubling. The lack of answers provided throughout Josef’s 80-mile adventure through a ruined suburbia borders on frustrating, but contributes to a looming feeling in the reader’s gut that Josef is on a crash course with something rather horrific. From beginning to end, and especially by the end, you will find yourself contemplating the purpose of a single man’s life; what is the point of Josef’s existence? What is the purpose of your own existence? This is the theme that fuels the aptly titled Immobility.
Overall, the story is a success, and the book is fun to read. If I had to offer one gripe, it would be that Evenson uses the phrase “parking lot” perhaps more often than he uses the word “the”, but I didn’t count and can’t say for sure. Perhaps there are lots of parking lots in post-apocalyptic suburbia. Or, there are too many parking lots in pre-apocalyptic suburbia, and when the apocalypse finally arrives, we will wonder why voluntarily built ugly, empty spaces.
3.5 / 5 stars!