Book Review: Of Mice Not Men by Donald L. Canterbury

33386633Genre: Science Fiction, Non-Romance

Page Count: 350 pages

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After manmade natural disasters wiped out most humans and life around the world, war breaks out among the remaining humans. The faction called the Developers want to take the resources from Earth and leave the dying planet behind to join the stars. The Harmonizers want to stay and restore Earth’s resources. Both factions race to stop the other, using deadly, even sadistic measures. After all, the fate of the planet and the human race lies in the balance.

I had my ups and downs with this book to be sure. Aside from the book badly needing a proofreader, the writing itself is well done, only dipping into preachiness about human’s greed a couple of times. The brain curdling torture scenes were deliciously awful and made me stop reading a couple times to look up pictures of pet pigs until I calmed down enough to continue.

pigsimage
Look at that face. It makes everything seem better.

I thought I had a stomach for violence. I read Stephen King books and have watched plenty of horror movies. In middle school I reveled in shocking my classmates with presentations of General Sherman’s March to the Sea and torture practices from the Spanish Inquisition. In high school I was the only one who could watch the video of a shark eating a turtle without looking away ( but I ended up crying about shark fin soup later that year).

The point is, violence in books usually doesn’t bother me. But Canterbury takes it to a whole new level in a few of the torture scenes. It wasn’t just the twisted sadism in the scenes that bothered me, however. It was the fact that both sides are tooth achingly aware of the finite resources left and yet they both spend resources making inefficient weapons. The Developers do it in the name of sadism and the Harmonizers end up with weapons that are less effective than gun powder guns. I guess it shows that humans don’t make sense.

There are a lot of characters in this book, but Jasmine is the main character. I didn’t like her at first. I found her too cold-hearted and hot-headed. Granted, she’s in deeper and darker shit than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, but despite her parents dying, she isn’t a sympathetic character for most of the book. Her relationship with Thomas feels as forced as a cheap jigsaw puzzle. Mostly she is indifferent to him or pushing him away. For awhile the only reason she was still with him was out of fear of being alone. And then suddenly she loves him? I never really bought it. Cynthia’s relationship with an alien artificial intelligence robot feels more real and she thought she was hallucinating it.

But I ended up really liking Jasmine in the end, and even Thomas.  The plot was fascinating, even a couple of parts I was skeptical about at first and this book turned out to be entertaining, even though I guessed two of the biggest plot “twists” (if you can even call them that) as soon as the foreshadowing again. But one plot twist I didn’t see coming at all, which was great.

I do wish the sides were not so black and white. The Developers were clearly evil with practically no human sides in any main characters while the Harmonizers were clearly peaceful with no dark streaks to be found. It ended up making what could have been a great story about needless conflict and saving the world sound a little like anti space exploration propaganda. That being said, it is still entertaining.

While Canterbury’s writing skills are rough, he has the potential to be a great science fiction/horror writer.

I gave Donald Canterbury an honest review in exchange for a donation to the Borgen Project, a nonprofit that fights extreme poverty. Learn how you can do the same. 

You can get Of Mice Not Men on Amazon today.