The Prelapsarians paints a portrait of a devastating future. The eruption of the Yellowstone super-volcano sets into motion a series of events that reduces mankind to a primitive and violent existence. These types of books work best if the journey from here to there is a plausible one. The author has to sell us on the new reality. I'm happy to say that that's precisely what John Gaiserish did.
I usually start reviews talking about characters, but I'm going to break that tradition and instead talk about the setting. Set in the south of Russia, the world is rich. It's alive. It's described in fantastic detail, with all the information you need not only to bring the world to life, but also to place events in historical context. This isn't easy to do, particularly to someone like me, who usually focuses on characters and action. However, the descriptions of places and events captivated me, bringing every vista into sharp relief.
The narrative follows a group of men who were soldiers of fortune before the disaster. When the super-volcano blew, they happened to be in Russia and had no way of getting back. They were well suited to survival in their new situation, and spent the early years learning how to survive even better. The book takes place many years after the eruption, in a world where powerful Oligarchs rule through force of arms, while smaller groups, like the main characters, try to eek out a meager existence in the ever-growing shadow of those more powerful, better armed, and better provisioned.
Many of the conversations between characters talk about religion, philosophy, and morality, though The Prelapsarians doesn't come off as preachy, nor does it try to get you to pick sides. But seeing how personal beliefs change (or sometimes don't change) is one of the more interesting takeaways from this book. These conversations gave me not only deeper insight into the characters themselves, but also insight into the real the world as well.
If you like rich, detailed dystopian fiction The Prelapsarians is a good choice. However, if you're put off by extreme graphic violence, or extreme profanity, this book will take you well out of your comfort zone.