Ration by Cody T. Luff, Apex Publications, #backcatalogblogtour

Apex Promo_03_600x400.jpgRation is a book that I requested as part of the Apex Back Catalog Blog Tour.  I am so happy to be taking part in this tour to bring focus to some of their back catalogue and would just mention that Apex are currently running a promotion the details of which are below.

RationThis book took me by surprise I have to admit.  I’ve become a little bit of a softie in recent times and don’t really have the stomach for anything too dark and so whilst I liked the sound of Ration with it’s far future setting and dystopian feel the hard hitting nature of the story made me feel a little bit daunted.

So.  Okay, I’m not gonna lie, this book doesn’t pull any punches but it’s positively addictive.  I couldn’t stop reading and even though there are a few scenes that are a little bit stomach churning – that’s probably too strong a phrase really, lets say instead uncomfortable – I couldn’t tear myself away from this book.  I was thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it and when I put it down I wanted to pick it back up as soon as possible, in fact I went to bed one evening and tossed and turned so much that I simply decided to get up and read to the end.  Yes, that compelling.

Ration is set in the future – something very bad has gone amiss.  An event known as the ‘clearing’ has eliminated all the men and some sort of apocalypse has scorched the earth and darkened the sky.  Plants no longer grow, animals have long since died or been eaten and the survivors are slowly starving to death (for the most part).  The whys and wherefores are not discussed but to be honest there’s no reason why they should be, particularly as we start the story in the Apartments where a number of girls live, surviving on rations that are strictly monitored and the penalties for eating more are severe.  Of course there’s no talk of ‘what came before’. This is a bunch of girls being kept in impossible conditions, brutalised – by each other on occasion – and so hungry that they can hardly function, they’re barely educated and there lives are dull and full of fear.  Now, let me just point out – and this is something that won’t become apparent until later in the story – but at the moment, these girls are living the easy life comparatively speaking.  That’s all I’ll say on that score

In the Apartments there is a person in control, Miss Tuttle in this particular situation, and also a supervisor of sorts, Ms Glennoc.  The girls are allotted daily duties and during the course of the week may request food rations from A to C.  The difference between the rations is that C is the lowest calorific value and therefore the least satisfying and A is the most nutritional and dare I say tasty.  Unfortunately, requesting an A ration comes with severe penalties that involve a randomly chosen girl being taken to the dreaded ‘Wet Room’.   There is so much that I can’t talk about here without giving away massive spoilers.  The girls themselves, as mentioned above, are sometimes responsible for a strict policing system of their own if they discover who requested an A Ration and their punishments are severe and horrific.

In terms of characters.  Two of the girls in the Apartment have developed a strong bond, Cynthia and Imeld and this friendship serves as the catalyst and driver for a good deal of the story.  We don’t get to read too much of Imeld but Cynthia is a very good character to read, not afraid to stand up for herself when push comes to shove and very determined.  Ms Tuttle is not the nicest people in many respects but is also a product of her own upbringing and a great example of somebody declining into addiction and madness.  Glennoc is an out and out bully, a former member of a different ‘Apartment’ herself, she’s learnt the hard way how to stand up for herself and has no qualms about doling out punishments and causing fear.

I can’t really tell you too much more.  This is a story about survival and the lengths that people will go to when push comes to shove.  An absolutely brutal world of dog eat dog where politics play a surprising part and the gap between the haves and have nots has burgeoned to ridiculous new heights.  Everything is for sale in this world and the measure of a girl or woman’s worth is little more than her calorific value.

This probably sounds incredibly bleak and to an extent it is.  Think The Road, think Max Max, add in a dash of the Unwinding but then come to the realisation that as bleak as this is, as base as these women have become, there is still a small thread of hope in this story.  You have to dig around for it but it’s there like a tiny ray trying to break through the clouds, a seedling pushing up through all the despair and that’s what lifts this book slightly.  The will to survive and the tiny glimmer of hope, be it ever so humble, that tries to shine a light in all the dark.  

I have to say this is an impressive debut.  The writing is just excellent and the author absolutely succeeds in creating a tense and powerful story and in holding you captive until he’s finished telling his tale.

I have no criticisms as such.  This is a dark story but it’s also totally absorbing.

I would rate this between a 4. and 4.5 out of 5 star read.  But, to be absolutely clear, this is not a light or airy read.  There is some dark material going on right here – totally absorbing though.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.

The above is my own opinion.

***

As mentioned above Apex Publications are offering a 25% discount for the month of September so there’s still time to grab yourself some goodies using the code SEPTEMBER and just because I’m nice here’s the link to the store.  Happy shopping.

 

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19 Responses to “Ration by Cody T. Luff, Apex Publications, #backcatalogblogtour”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    A book that showcases some uncomfortable angles and yet manages to draw your attention in such a way is indeed a book to keep on one’s radar. Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Oh yes, this was really good – in fact I’d love to read your thoughts on this one if you get a chance to read it.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Tammy

    You caught the essence of this story perfectly. It’s very hard to stop reading, even though so much of the story is dark. Great review, Lynn!

    • @lynnsbooks

      thanks Tammy – this was so addictive, I couldn’t put it down, beautiful and horrifying.
      Lynn 😀

  3. sjhigbee

    What a fantastic review, Lynn. You give such a stark, passionate summation of this intriguing story. Though right now I’m absolutely not going there… Thank you for giving sufficient information for me to realise that the subject matter and approach is not for wussy ol’ me:)

    • @lynnsbooks

      You might like it tbh. Its really well done and the writing is beautiful which almost gives a deceptive feel to the starkness of the plot.
      Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        Would it have a feel of The Girl With All the Gifts? That’s a hard-hitting book where the writing helped me cope… Wouldn’t let me put it down!

      • @lynnsbooks

        Yes, now you mention it The Girl was pretty hard hitting. And this author has such beautiful writing that sometimes it almost kids you into thinking you’re reading something much more easy going! I think you would like this. It is hard hitting but it’s not gruesome or gratuitous and it’s definitely compelling and thought provoking.
        Lynn 😀

      • sjhigbee

        That sounds like my kind of book, then:). Thank you for taking the time to allay my concerns…

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    That’s it, both you and Tammy had such good things to say about this book, I think I’ll have to take a look too 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s not the same story at all but it puts me in mind of Girls with Sharp Sticks for some reason. Perhaps the talk of calories – although it’s for a different reason here.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Redhead

    woah, this sounds fantastic!!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was pretty darn good. And there’s this beautiful writing which works so well given the rather, well, ugly nature of parts of the story. So very well done and absolutely compulsive reading.
      Lynn 😀

  6. bkfrgr

    *adds Ration to list* Thank you! 😉

    • @lynnsbooks

      I thought it was great, The writing is just lovely – which is great when you consider the content – it’s like they’re directly opposed and it just works so well.
      Lynn 😀

      • bkfrgr

        It just keeps getting better … 😀

  7. waytoofantasy

    Sounds like an amazing read, probably not for me though! I think I’m taking a break from dark for a little bit, with a few exceptions. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I’m not sure that I would push this book in your direction. It is very good, but I’m not sure it’s your thing really.
      Lynn 😀

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