Author: Greg Barron
Rotten Gods is an Australian thriller that has never been more relevant than now, and it is terrifyingly plausible which I think is part of what makes it so confronting.
There is a ’50 Books You Can’t Put Down’ sticker on the front of this book and that is a big part of what prompted me to pick this one from the to be read pile. Reading the blurb on the back then gave me cause for hesitation, simply because it’s not something that I would generally choose to read.
Sometime in the near future, I’m thinking less than 50 years but as yet there has been no year mentioned, the planet is on the brink of environmental catastrophe with all of the phenomena we are seeing now start to increase, getting ever more regular. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and finding it even harder to survive. Heads of state gather in Dubai to see if they can devise a way to steer the planet back from the brink, except that a band of extremists think it’s too late and hijack the conference centre with a list of demands, a briefcase of explosives and weapons they are not afraid to use.
The novel is well written, intelligent and fast-paced; it’s quite a bleak warning of where we could well be headed unless we start making some changes.
Point of View is in the third person, which is a really good thing when there are multiple lead characters, and Rotten Gods follows the actions and involvement of many to piece together all of the action taking place in relation to the hijacking.
Marika is a strong, independent Australian intelligence officer working security at the conference and when things deviate about as far from the plan as imaginable she volunteers to parachute into Somalia in the hopes of tracking down someone that may be able to help get through to the extremists.
Isabella is a British diplomat maneuvered into a corner where she felt her only option was to help the extremists and if she can’t make it right, assuming she makes it out alive, she will face treason charges.
Simon is a British Airways pilot willing to use his airline ID and little left to lose attitude to embark on a quest to trace his kidnapped daughters.
Rather than traditional chapters Rotten Gods is broken down into time frames, the extremists set a seven day deadline for their demands to be met so the novel is set out to count down alongside the timer. We start at Day 1, 10:35 as Dr Ali Khalid Abukar leaves his room to speak at the conference.
Throughout the narrative are passages of flashback to help us get to know the characters better, and in the case of the extremists how they got to where they are today. At times these are relatively short snatches focusing on single events or short time spans and these are a refreshing change of pace and insightful journey into the characters mind and make-up. A lot of them though are much less brief, they end up being more like an entire life history and make it a little difficult to keep up with current happenings.
This is a gripping tale and fans of this subject matter are likely to love this book, personally it’s not for me so I’m not going to finish at this time. Having said that I’m already curious about what happens next and itching to see how it all turns out so I am sure I will come back to it when I’m in the right headspace to appreciate it.