Commune: Book One by Joshua Gayou is the story of one small group of survivors who must adapt to a primitive, hostile world or die. As they learn the rules of this new era, they must decide how far they’re willing to go to continue living, continually asking themselves the same question daily: is survival worth the loss of humanity?
When I started reading Commune, I noticed a couple of minor technical issues. There were some grammatical errors, and the narrative occasionally swapped tenses by accident. Also, some words were written with excessive letters or punctuation, like thiiiiiiis????!!!! As a reader, I urge writers not to do this. It may look as if it expresses deeper meaning, I assure you it does not; I read it as this? or this! regardless of how many extra letters or punctuation marks have been added.*
However, looking past these technical issues, I really enjoyed the story behind Commune. It had all the great conventions of a dystopian, apocalyptic narrative – scavenging, survival, and strange encounters.
I was also thrilled at the relationship dynamic between Amanda and Jake. Their narratives begin at different places in the novel, and have separate paths until eventually uniting. It was hard to follow the (sometimes length) chapters that followed their individual stories, but once they joined forces, I loved their pairing together. It was refreshing to have a stronger female character who builds up a close relationship to a male without it being reduced to a love story.
When I first read the synopsis of Commune, I thought it sounded similar to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road – an incredibly bleak survival story of a father and his son. Yet I didn’t find Commune particularly bleak. Albeit, there were moments of sadness and occasional danger, but the characters were never really lacking serious supplies and I thought their journey was relatively straightforward.
For a truly bleak dystopian, I would have preferred there to be a serious threat looming over the characters from the start – there were some mentions of an ominous Plague, but I don’t think this was explored enough to be seen as dangerous.
Although Gayou wanted Commune to focus on a human survival story, rather than a supernatural one, I couldn’t help but long for a subhuman threat, like the cannibalistic gangs from The Road or the zombie hoards from The Walking Dead.
Overall, Gayou lays a good foundation for future books about this world and the characters he’s created. Whilst I have my criticisms (as every book reviewer should), this was still a good read, and an enjoyable new dystopian novel.
Star Rating: 4/5 Stars