Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review of Rut by Scott Phillips

RutRut by Scott Phillips
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story is set in a near-future dystopian United States. Climate change, pollution and peak oil have all taken their toll on a small town in Colorado. Once a popular tourist destination but now dying, its only visitor is a young biologist, come to study the local frogs. Although frog populations are declining worldwide, frogs are flourishing near this town. However, effluent from a mining operation is having an odd effect on some frogs, leaving them stuck in the tadpole stage; they'll grow up to a foot long, but remain legless, a fate that parallels that of many of the town men, who are missing legs from all the wars they've served in, and a boy named Cole, who's seventeen years old but looks eleven. Like the frogs, his development has been stunted by his environment.

Although this is definitely science fiction, it's not a fast-paced novel with emphasis on action and thrills. Rather, it focuses on the everyday lives of the townspeople and how they react to the arrival of the newcomer. One might classify this as literary fiction, but that doesn't mean it doesn't go anywhere; this ain't The Shipping News. To the contrary, the ending is explosive... and I don't just mean that figuratively. While it's not a page-turner, if you stick with it until the end, it will stick with you.

In fact, I was a little sad to have to give away my copy. This is a Concord Free Press book, which means you get a copy for free but you have to give a donation to a charity of your choice, then pass the book on so that someone else can do the same. So if you want to read it, you can either ask Concord for a free copy (they have a form for that purpose on their web site), wait until somebody gives you their copy, or wait until the novel becomes available from a traditional publisher and buy it. Take your pick.

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