The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct and the half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind, but the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory.
Man has handed over stewardship of the earth to new life-forms. Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on earth, living in the Moscow Metro – the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters, or the need to repulse enemy incursion.
VDNKh is the northernmost inhabited station on its line, one of the Metro’s best stations and secure. But a new and terrible threat has appeared. Artyom, a young man living in VDNKh, is given the task of penetrating to the heart of the Metro to alert everyone to the danger and to get help. He holds the future of his station in his hands, the whole Metro – and maybe the whole of humanity.
Author: Dmitry Glukhovsky
Narrator: Rupert Degas
Publisher: Orion Publishing
Series: Metro, book #1
Audio Release Date: 14/05/2012
Run Time: 20 hrs 1 min
My Rating for ‘Metro 2033’: 1 out of 5
When I first picked up Metro 2033, this was not the review I expected to write. But, with the book firmly in my rear-view mirror all I can say is that I am amazed I did not give up. The only reason I persisted through so much boredom was because I swore to myself I would not DNF another book. Apparently I enjoy being tortured.
I can only assume that Metro 2033 lost some of its lustre in translation, as I find it hard to believe any publisher would have woken up one morning and trawled through their list of agents asking if they have ‘the most boring, stop-start, not really telling a story’ kind of novel. Oh, and I highly doubt they’d add on ‘by the way, the main character has to be one of the most stupid humans known to man’.
But yea, this one was slooooooooooow. Slow to the point where I just didn’t care anymore. I enjoyed this so little, that it actually made me fall out of love with reading for a while, as I associated boredom with the hobby I love most.
Artyom was, for me, one of the least inspiring main characters I have ever read. What’s more frustrating, when he says something stupid, those around him act like he’s just added to the conversation in a thought-provoking way. For instance; when he’s accused of being with a certain group of people he replies with ‘oh no, I hate them. I was just curious why you hate them is all.’ And all of a sudden, those who distrust him and have accused him of being with those they hate suddenly like him. It’s either lazy story-telling or lazy translating, and it’s gotten to the point where I genuinely don’t care which.
A lot of the plot points just feel shoe-horned in, as well. I mean at one point he just happens to find a very particular house by stumbling into it. Kind of felt at times like the author wrote himself into corners and just had the character walk through the walls of those corners to carry on the plot.
It also doesn’t feel like it ever really goes anywhere. It honestly feels like a small group of people walking from station to station, stopping and telling ghost stories about things they have never experienced, yet swear to be true, around a camp fire.
To be honest; the only good thing that springs to mind for me is that Rupert Degas, as is always the case, does an absolutely brilliant job at narrating. He really brings the blandness that is Metro 2033 to life and, at times, tricks me into thinking there’s something interesting going on.
This is one of those that’s classed as a ‘cult classic’ which essentially means there is no middle ground. You’re either going to really like it or hate it. I, if you haven’t guessed yet, fell into the latter category. I almost made the mistake of buying the two follow-on books so I could power through the whole trilogy. So glad I chose not to.
I know my entire review has had next to nothing nice to say about the book or its ridiculous main character, but I’d still say try it. My friend tried it around the same time I did and he feels it’s one of the best things he’s got through in a while. So I suppose it’s worth giving it a go just to see which side of the fence you fall.
All I can say is that I shall never try the sequels and will not be in a hurry to pick up the game that was based off these books.