I will be honest I wasn’t sure what I would be expecting from ONE, most of these end of the world style novels normally end in a zombie apocalypse, so it was nice to have a sole survivor style horror which in some was reminded me of playing the game FALLOUT while traveling through vast wastelands. ONE sees our main protagonist, Richard Jane washed up on the shores of the country he used to call home after a worldwide natural disaster (solar flare maybe?). Hoping that this is just a localized incident Jane travels from the north of the UK and heads to London in the hope he can find his son Stanley. As the story progresses we are greeted by other survivors. Some good, some crazy and some who, even though they survived the end of the world, would rather kill their fellow survivors.
Now to really do a decent review I need to add that the book is split into two parts. The first part, also known as BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES, follows Jane’s travels to London which I found an interesting journey inside the mind of a man who may just be the only surviving man on earth. The addition of other characters was a nice touch as we see people join the journey and also leave in ways I will explain as I would hate to ruin it for those of you who have not read this yet. But then we reach London and the whole dynamic of the story changes. During part one of ONE, I hate to say, I found myself getting a little bored which made the book drag slightly for me. On saying this Williams' obviously knows how to pick the story back up to its feet by giving us some great action scenes.
Upon part two we are thrown several years into the future where Jane and his two traveling companions, Becky and a young boy named Adian have joined up with other survivors. Now even though this is a huge jump and leaves you wanting to know more about the years we have missed, it was a much needed move to make. We are introduced to a new threat know as the Skinners who I imagine looks like the thugs from the film DOOMSDAY. The story wraps up some lose ends and we also go deeper inside the mind of Jane as he becomes obsessed with finding his son.
Overall the book was a good read; however I did find myself struggling at some points. For fans of end of the world style horror or for anyone who sees one of Conrad’s books sitting on the shelf of your local book store I would without a doubt pick this up and give it a go. Conrad Williams is one of the best horror writers to come out of the UK in recent years and I will be looking forward to giving THE UNBLEMISHED a read.