Metro 2033: An Odyssey Set in the Russian Post Apocalypse

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky

So there is a trend lately. Video game companies are adapting novels into their media. The Walking Dead, Fables, The Heart of Darkness, Dante’s Inferno, and The Witcher Series have had their fantastic stories told in this electronic format. And I began to check into the source material of these games. It has paid off so far. The Witcher book series is one of the best fantasies I ever read. So when I found out the Russian apocalypse video game was based off a book, I thought that I would give to a go. The book being reviewed this time is Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky.

So what it is it about? The story takes place twenty years after a nuclear war. In Moscow, Russia a small band of humanity managed to escape into the underground metroes to survive as the world above is filled with radiation and flooded with mutants, especially the monstrous beings known as the dark ones. The book follows Artyom, a twenty something living in the metro station VDNKh, where he lives with his step father. Artyom is a security guard patrolling the tunnels for any monsters who may be heading near the station. One day a friend of his father named Hunter comes. He visits with Artyom and asks a favor of him. Hunter is going to stop the Dark Ones from getting into the metro and if he doesn’t return Artyom needs to deliver a message to Polis station. Artyomn agrees.

When Hunter does not return, Artyom goes on his journey from his station to the Polis station. But Polis is very far away in the maze of tunnels. He has to go through many stations and it is an odyssey as Artyom sees all the faces of the miserable world of barely alive people. He runs into neo Nazis, cannibals, civil wars, hippies, cults and eventually sees the world of the surface. Overall this story is an exploration of how many different ways people will cope with the terrible living conditions.

So the good? The story thoroughly builds up this sad and depressing world. The majority of the book is not about the monsters or the dark ones. It’s about survival and how each station has managed to cope. All the main pieces of the puzzle fit together beautifully creating something great. Also another thing done real well is the constant sense of fear of the unknown and paranoia. To go from one station to another, one must travel kilometers in the dark tunnel trusting that they’ll find a town on the other side. Artyom has never been outside his station, only learning ghost stories from growing up. In so many scenes there was this constant suspense as Artyom can’t tell reality from his paranoia in the dark. There are noises, images, and events that happen in a few of these scenes that make the reader question what is really happening and just wanting to read more to understand what is really happening.

The bad? The detail is not greatest and it is at its worst when it comes to the action scenes. They were a bit hard to follows at times. Also when he does actually confront the monsters, the author didn’t make them that scary. After the huge build up, I expected more. Also Artyom is a very gullible character. For a lot of the book, he was easily persuaded to think and see things the same way as the people he ran into them. He does break out of that mode eventually, but it was very annoying. It seemed like Artyom didn’t have a mind of his own. Also the lack of detail coupled with flat characters did make it a little dull.

Overall, this has a lot of great stuff. I am so glad that I got a chance to read it. But at the same time it was a little hard to finish. The lack of detail and depth made it a dry read, and that is such a shame. So if you like scifi world building, you would enjoy this. If you like psychological horror, you may enjoy parts of the book. But if you’re looking for anything else you might want to look elsewhere.

3 smoothies out of four.

Overall Rating: An Odyssey Set in the Russian Post Apocalypse

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