Michael Van Cleve
Michael Van Cleve (2014)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (08/16)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Titan’ by Michael Van Cleve on Blogcritics.

“Titan” by Michael Van Cleve is a chilling story about life, such as it may be, after a nuclear holocaust. Paris and Troy Hawking seek refuge for their family in the last city on Earth. But, is this city everything the couple had hoped for their family and their future?

The author has a very distinct and unique writing style. I was a bit put-off by it at first but became more accustomed to the style as the story progressed. My inner English teacher wanted to correct the sentence structure and what appeared to be the unnecessary capitalization of certain words, but I pushed past my initial reaction and was rewarded for the discipline. I soon found the short, almost curt sentences to dominate the narrative in such a way that draws the reader directly into the author’s world.

The prologue sets an eerie tone for the story, with a numbered list of transgressions against America. Written in the form of a poem, the list builds to a climax before the ultimate fall of the great giant that was once America, taking the world down with her.

The cast of characters in “Titan” are bizarre, and the roles of the family members are anything but traditional. Paris and Troy show their love for one another in a peculiar fashion, and the relationships they each have with the children are very off the wall. At times, the story is horrific and I felt great darkness envelope me while reading. At other times, the dry humor would have me laughing out loud, especially at Solomon, a seemingly low-level form of artificial intelligence. There is a lot of room for individual interpretation in the story that is sure to trigger additional reflection on the possible outcomes of humanity.

I recommend “Titan” by Michael Van Cleve to devoted, hardcore sci-fi fans and those readers who like to contemplate the “what-ifs” after finishing a weighty story. At a little less than 150 pages, this short novel will also readily appeal to readers who want a quick read without sacrificing depth.

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