The Hurricane - my impressions
Yikes! I make the mistake of asking why there's no forum for The Hurricane in the Books section and suddenly it appears! Now I feel compelled to provide something to start to fill it up.
I have to say first off, that this is going to be spoiler-ific. If you haven't read The Hurricane, why are you still here? Buy it, read it and then come back.
I read The Hurricane after reading Wool and First Shift. And actually thought it would be more apocalyptic than it was. What do I mean by that?
Well, I have a serious soft spot for apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction. The things I find most interesting about these stories are: 1) What did the author blame the end on? (-3000 points if you fall back on the old, tired trope of greedy corporations) and 2) what does the author think is worth saving? What's important that comes out of the apocalypse?
WOOL is obviously post-apocalyptic, and First Shift is apocalyptic. The Plagarist is apocalyptic to the Nth power. And based on that, I was expecting The Hurricane to be much more the traditional desolate wasteland, one man on a quest type of thing. Think, a teenage version of The Road, or Book of Eli. Looking back at the description of the book on Amazon, I don't know why I thought that now, but I guess at the time my perception was tainted by WOOL and First Shift.
As I read the book, and the storm started, I realized the book wasn't the apocalyptic fiction I was expecting. But as I read further, I realized it was, in many ways, a book about the end of the world, at least the world as Daniel knew it, and what comes after. This is why I've described it in relation to WOOL as a smaller book about a smaller end to a smaller world.
I think the book is fascinating in the description of the world that is destroyed, albeit temporarily. I realize this is ironic in the sense that I'm talking about a digital book on a computer forum with people I don't know, but the world pre-storm was too interconnected, to digital. By being easier to connect to people half a world away, the characters of The Hurricane don't really connect to each other. And what does that connectivity mean to someone going through high school? It's been a few (OK, 25) years since I was in high school, but it's hard enough without this digital, computer-calculated value of our worth. How many Facebook friends do you have? How many Twitter followers?
I remember a time recently when one of my middle school sons was very depressed and when I probed to find out what was wrong, he actually started crying. Turns out that Xbox Live has a mechanism where you can rank the people you have played against based on things like sportsmanship, etc. And he was upset because his older brother had higher favorability ratings then he did. How hard is adolescence without having a digitally calculated score (to the decimal place) about how popular and likeable you are?
And in the middle of all of this is Daniel. He doesn't fit, not because he's in the unpopular group, but because he's not in a group at all. He doesn't fit with any of the cliques. The world is going on around him and everyone else is focused on the popular kids. He's the Beaufort to their Charlotte.
It takes the storm to put a temporary end to this digital, overly connected, popularity ranked world. And in that, we get to the second point of what I find interesting about apocalyptic fiction. What does the author find important?
I find a few points that really resonate with me.
1) Finding your own way. Daniel finds happiness when he stops worrying about where he fits in 'their world' and decides where we wants to fit in his.
2) Family, both his formerly distant and disconnected family, and his estranged father.
3) Community and interconnectedness. This is often a big part of apocalyptic fiction, at least the part that doesn't have everyone killing everyone else over resources or because their neighbors have thoughtlessly become zombies.
4) The cleansing power of work. This is personally a biggie for me, and I can relate. As someone who works in high tech, most of my time is spent at a desk, staring at a screen. There comes times though, when I have to take on some big, physical task, to have something tangible and real to touch and build. Something I can point to, and in a caveman grunt utter, "I did that!"
So, a smaller book about a smaller end of a smaller world.
And I'll close with one of my favorite quotes from the book: "Misery and Joy, Daniel decided. This is how you know you're in love."
Excellent post! I had the same expectations going in, but was quickly sucked into the story and forgot about my WOOL-colored presumption.
Frankly, I fear this digital age and dealing with teens. My kids are still quite young, but hearing stories like your youngest son's makes me wince. It is not something I am looking forward to at all.
Anyway, I agree with your assessment, and think Hugh did a great job of capturing adolescent angst without it devolving into sappy stereotype. And you did a great job posting your thoughts on the book. Thanks for sharing!
I'm so glad to see this book have it's own forum! It's a great book that deserves some respect!
Love your analysis, Bob. The book really makes you stop and think. High school doesn't change much, but I do think it's harder on kids this decade. The internet is a double edged sword for them. It's got to be hard to try to teach them their self esteem is not found in a cell phone or on a website. Or an XBox console. Teens aren't quite mature enough to realize that the electronics are toys and tools meant to serve them, nothing more. It's not supposed to be the other way around at all.
Hugh did an awesome job of portraying the way a disaster can bring out the best in people of all ages. I enjoyed the characters he created very much. It's hard to pick a favorite from his books, but after the WOOL series, I enjoyed The Hurricane the most.