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  • Writer's pictureMatt Johnston

Don't Bury Me - by Nick Younker

Updated: Jul 20, 2018

Don’t Bury Me by Nick Younker

I read this a few days ago, and it is testament to the novel that, though half way through another book, my thoughts keep coming back to it. It has also taken a while to put my finger on what continues to eat away at me.

Firstly, I did enjoy the book. To my mind it was well written, and in the manifestation of the unfolding disaster, and through the debilitating nature of the threat, I drew interesting parallels to Day of the Triffids (one of my favourites). By limiting the narrative to only four meaningful characters the book retains its humanity and the sense of isolation. The central themes of regret, guilt and impending inevitability are similarly well served by this limited dynamic.

There are also interesting social commentary throughout the book, which helps give the book poignancy and relevance.

For me the most telling issue, and the main theme of this blog, is one of brevity. In some respects this works excellently, driving the story forward, and the first person narrative gets you into the meat (quite literally) after only a few pages. It is a short book covering a large canvas, and as a result it is inevitable that aspects of the widening horror are only alluded to.

However I got the distinct feeling that there was a missed opportunity, and some of the most interesting ideas and premises of the book were not given the opportunity to be thoroughly explored. To my mind the central characters relationship (again, quite literally) with the unfolding disaster could have been a sizable book in its own right, as could the intriguing nature, and conflicting agendas of the Croatian expedition.

I guess the frustration (or possibly inspiration) stems from the demonstration of control the author gives to the story, and that these are conscious omission rather than oversights. I guess, as with any murderous pandemic, sacrifices must be made. And like the novel’s countless victims, Nick Younker leaves us hungry.

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