It’s wonderful to find a book you’ve been hunting for; like finding buried treasure. I tell the full story in my September newsletter, but for now, here’s my review.
I first read this in the early 1990’s. In fact, I read it so much, the book disintegrated. It was THAT loved.
Fast forward twenty years, and I’ve just read it again, this time with the benefit of experience of reading other catastrophe novels and watching all the disaster movies Amazon Prime and Netflix have to offer.
Eh, okay, this hasn’t aged too well. That the tech is out of date is forgivable as there’s something rather quaint about a character charging halfway across the country to impart a message which would now just be sent via text. What is less forgivable is the patriarchal attitude towards the women characters. It’s not tooooo bad, but enough to make a modern reader wince.
You have an obstreperous volcano, inconveniently doing its thing in the Atlantic, perfectly poised to cause havoc both on the Eastern seaboard and the – wait -Norfolk coast? Not sure what happens to Wales, Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland, but anyway…
There are some genial if ultimately forgettable characters. Mark is a bit of a volcano bore, but he does know his stuff. In the grand tradition of disaster movies, no one wants to listen to him when he says shooting nukes into the resulting dust cloud caused by Misreal’s eruption, in order to disperse it is Not A Good Idea. He has an ally in the form of Annie, who is the sister of lantern-jawed sailor, Geoffrey, the other main male character. He has fallen in love with one of the passengers on the initial sailing to see Misreal, and stays in love with her even when realising she’s Australian and he hates her accent. Like I said, the book has some outdated ideas and stereotypes. The fact that both the (professional, well-educated) women end up pregnant “by accident,” in the middle of a global crisis also caused my eyes to roll.
So yeah, interesting in that I reread a book I loved way back then and now I don’t love it enough to get the paperback copy, but if you want a great volcano disaster book with more rounded characters, personal dramas and tiny, pertinent observations, as well as a thrilling climax – which this book doesn’t have – I recommend Volcano by Richard Doyle. It’s just a better book than this one and will stand the test of time.
Misreal. The newest place on earth.
An island, growing up out of the Atlantic. The tip of a volcano, forcing its way up from the ocean bed, the molten lava blasting out into the air, solidifying. A peak 200 feet high, 300 feet . . .
Misreal, a magnet for scientists, the latest tourist attraction, circled by chartered ships, overflown by planes, the subject of programme after programme on TV.
And then Misreal exploded, blew itself into dust and ash. And spread a pall of destruction across the world.
Meltdown: a brilliantly researched story of environmental disaster and of people caught up by events utterly beyond human control.