REVIEW: Cathartes Aura on the Road to Nowhere (Cathartes #2) by Eighty Six

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Genre: Poetry/ Verse/ Apocalyptic Fiction, Pages: 50, Level: Intermediate/ Difficult

Book Description from Barnes & Noble:

Our turkey-vulture narrator has escaped the zoo and is observing the ragged remnants of humanity recovering from disaster. Some will rebuild. Some will destroy. Some will come together. Some will fall apart. A novel-in-verse written in ten-by-ten format. Book Two in the Cathartes Aura Series.

Note: I received a complimentary eBook of Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo to review. I am not really up on all the literary lingo, but I believe this was written by an independent author. In addition, this is much different than other things I have read. So please keep that in mind when you read the review as well as the fact that I rate something based on how much I enjoyed it.

Cathartes Aura the turkey vulture has returned to observe the remaining humans in the area and their behavior. Some come together peacefully and some want to dominate. The reader gets to observe the groups separately as Cathartes Aura flies around looking for food and then ultimately as they find each other.

As I was reading, there seemed to be something missing for the most part- emotion. Remember that the vulture is the narrator and observes the human activity. Now a few descriptive words sneak in there, i.e. “exultant voices” or “bright-eyed girl,” but even those are subtle and few. On the other hand, when speaking of himself, the vulture observes that he would “…rather die reckless than starve skeptical.” Of course this makes sense because why would a vulture assign emotional descriptions to humans? Okay, I don’t know that this was the reason Eighty-Six wrote this way and in fact, this tactic could be for a whole different reason; I can think of one other reason myself and it would be an interesting topic for discussion. The point is it’s there. I’m not a writer, but that sounds awfully hard to accomplish; I can’t even accomplish that in this review.

The other interesting reaction I had toward this book is that I felt nothing for the characters. There are the admirable characters and the obligatory not so admirable ones, but I did not have any strong feelings for either. While this does not sound like a good thing, and may be only my reaction, I propose this is not a bad thing. Again, I think it comes from the fact that the reader sees the characters from the vulture’s point of view and a vulture obviously will not assign any sort of moral value on actions. For me, it was an interesting divergence from everything else I read.

With this type of writing, I know there are a lot of people who will say that I simply read too much into all this; I have argued the same point many times. What difference does it make? The beautiful thing about verse and poetry is that one reader may see complete bologna and another will find the answer to life, the universe and everything. Verse may not be your thing- apocalyptic vulture verse even less so. That’s okay. I am new to this whole poetic apocalyptic fiction genre so the only thing I can go by is whether or not I enjoyed reading it. I did.

I debated between three and four stars. I think Cathartes Aura and the Apocalypse Zoo deserved four stars partly because of its originality. Now anyone who reads apocalyptic fiction knows that wandering humans eventually stumbling upon one another has become practically cliché. For that reason, Cathartes Aura on the Road from Nowhere’s story line did not impress me as much as the Apocalyptic Zoo did. However, after going back and pinpointing the tone, or lack of it for the most part, I reconsidered my rating. Maybe this is where a half star may have provided me with a desired compromise, but it is not an option. So I will simply round up.

Reviewed by Christina

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