About the Book
Author: Jonah Bergan
Published: April 29, 2017
Well it finally happened. The world ended. It didn’t happen the way anyone expected it would. No nukes, no pandemics, just a whole lot of rage and a whole lot of violence. None of us saw it coming. There were plenty of clues, but none of us figured it out in time. The real kicker is, I’m pretty sure someone planned it. I’m pretty sure someone did it on purpose.
I’m Holden. I survived. You won’t like my story. That’s too bad, because your world’s headed the same way as mine. Everything that happened to me, is going to happen to you. The same kind of people that did this to me, will do it to you. They’re doing it right now. They’re making it worse and you don’t even see it. Sure, I could help you. I could give it a try, but you won’t listen. I’m not the same as you. I’m a different kind than you, so you won’t listen. That’s why it’ll happen to you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Don’t say you didn’t have a clue. Not when all you had to do was listen.
Heathens is a young adult post apocalyptic science fiction novel. Heathens contains some coarse language and violence.
Can One Angry Boy Save the World?
This is hands-down one of the best books of 2017. As promised, this story is an intense and challenging read. What makes it so compelling is that it it reflects the idea that the world will end with a whisper and not a bang. Holden, the first-person narrator, tells us that no one can say what started it, only what happened. If one event tips just the wrong way, this is the future we will have to endure.
Holden is a terrific storyteller. He’s flawed, but he’s self-aware because he’s relating his tale with the advantage of reflection. He often laments that things would’ve been different if only he (or someone else) had known what was coming. We see his self-discovery and the way in which his mistakes ultimately empower him and those who choose loyalty to him.
The majority of the book is the frighteningly accurate potential the U.S. has to become ground zero for a world ruled by violence and division. There is a lot of descriptive violence and death throughout the story, but no explicit sex. What strikes me as utterly brilliant about that is how well it fits with the themes. We are comfortable and desensitized to the brutal killings but we become uncomfortable with what Holden calls “what you do in the dark” (in a beautifully tender scene). The story reflects this strange view of what makes us uncomfortable. Rather than undermining it by glossing over the violence and explicitly detailing the intimacy, it’s an in-your-face overt contrast.
In the midst of the post-apocalyptic chaos is the idea that some people appear to have extra abilities. It isn’t quite clear whether these powers are exclusive to LGBT+ people or whether all LGBT+ people of a certain age possess them. Either way, they are the tool of survival for Holden and what he calls “our kind.” Their origin is never entirely explained, and even the characters themselves don’t agree on how they arose.
There is a wide range of characters, none of whom use specific markers to describe who they are. However, they are easily identifiable by how they are shown on the page. Gone are the usual stereotypes, replaced by Holden’s remarkable ability to really see people for what’s inside. There’s no relying on caricatures in order to tell a compelling tale, only sensitivity and care for all “our kind.”
Holden’s story embraces complex themes about power, violence, death, identity, forgiveness, and love. Ultimately, there is a glimmer of hope as Holden discovers what he was meant to do. Because of the violence, I recommend this ideally for older teens. However, I think this should be required reading, given our current politics. If we are not careful, this vision of the future may become reality.
For exceptional writing, complex themes, and an ending that left me in tears, this gets 10/10 fountain pens.
About the Author
Jonah Bergan is a freelance writer living in New England. His publishing credits include “Heathens,” a post-apocalyptic young adult novel, “Off World,” a Gay Scifi novel, “Letters From Home,” a ten part serial, as well as multiple short stories, and a collection of anecdotal humor. He has also published MMORPG game reviews and content, hypnosis scripts, online user manuals, and advertising texts. Jonah is also host to the Sci-Fi Sunday feature which he operates from his blog.