So, let’s talk about the end of the world. Apocalyptic fiction has always existed. We can go back to Mary Shelley with her novel The Last Man. Even in religion, we often create an apocalyptic narrative of how our society and our achievements will crumble and fall. But, apocalyptic fiction differs from religious stories. Apocalyptic fiction deals with mankind and how mankind faces death. In most apocalyptic stories, mankind doesn’t give up, at least not without a fight. Even when the planet is in ruins, people always have something to live for. In The Road, we have the father and his son; the father is doing everything he can to keep his son alive, even if it means sacrificing himself. In The Stand, we have the classic good vs evil plot. A flu virus has killed most of the earth’s population and there is a battle among the survivors for who will populate the land. In Swan Song by Robert McCammon, we have the same outline; the world has ended and now the good, will fight the bad in a way that shapes society to come. There is so much apocalyptic fiction to look at, as a society, we fantasize about the end of the world. Well, let me say this. We have never seen an apocalyptic narrative as fitting, suspenseful, shocking, and original as The Fearing by The King of Pain himself, John F. D. Taff.
The Fearing is a unique take on the apocalypse. We’re given three perspectives, the first is on the east coast with our antagonist Adam Sigel. Adam is afraid of everything. He can’t leave his apartment, the city scares him, darkness scares him, and even people scare him. However, one day he leaves his apartment, and he realizes that he can sense other people’s fears, and he can make them face their own fears in the most sinister way possible. Even worse, he loves this power, and he relishes in it. Our second perspective is down in Mississippi where we follow three high school students Sarah, Carli, and Kyle. These students are the only three survivors of a tornado that touches down on their school when they leave the school and see what has happened to the world outside, they realize that things are worse than it seems. Our last perspective is a group of people who were driving to Arizona as a giant earthquake hits California. These narratives are riveting and suspenseful, but Taff really shines with Sarah, Carli, and Kyle. I love these three characters and I’m afraid for what Taff will put them through in the next books.
Which leads me to the next main comment about The Fearing. This is a serialized apocalyptic epic. It will be four books, the first book, Fire & Rain is due out July 9th. Book two will be called Water & Wind, three will be Air & Dust, and the final one will be Earth and Ember. All four books together will create The Fearing.
Even though the novel is serialized, this is a page-turner, and my heart sank when I saw the “To be continued…” at the end. I need more, I haven’t been this compelled to read an apocalyptic novel since, forever. This book grabs you from the first chapter and it refuses to let you go. I can’t say that about The Stand of Swan Song. Those two books take their time. The Fearing refuses to take its time. It lets you know what it’s about and it pulls you in, and there is no stopping it. What follows is a heartbreaking, suspenseful narrative full of characters you will love and hate. Taff knows how to engage the reader, and he does so wonderfully in this book.
The first book involves setting up the main plot to come, Taff uses this as a tool to introduce us to the scenario and the main characters. Which leads me to the apocalypse itself. The apocalyptic event is based on our fears becoming personified. There is something out there which feeds off our fears and uses that to its advantage. I can’t say anything else because there is more to come. Let me just say I am completely hooked, and once you read this book, you’ll be begging for the second book.
John F. D. Taff is the King of Pain, and nobody can take that away from him. He writes emotionally harrowing apocalyptic horror like nobody has before. If the rest of the books continue as this one does, this book will be held in higher esteem than The Stand or Swan Song. This is an epic for the ages, and we are lucky to be living in the time to be the first to read it.