This is how the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper – the whimper of a reader forced to read this shit. Let’s get it over with Guðsríki, by Ari Bach.
The end of the world has come, leaving Vibeke the sole survivor, alone in the desolation. She perseveres with only one goal in mind: to reunite with Violet, even if it means the destruction of what remains of the planet Earth. But the consequences might be even more catastrophic than Vibeke expects.
A faint light still burns in the darkness, though—a last hope for love flickering amidst the atrocities mankind has wrought and the pain still waiting in the future. But it lies at the end of a long and deadly road.
You know how the first two books of the Valhalla series were set in corporate, cyberpunk world? Did you by any chance find that interesting? Well, too bad: we’re doing post-apocalyptic zombie-world setting now. Because when you think zombies, stale, overdone, boring, and cliche are the last words that come to mind, right? Oh, and incidentally, how would you like to get a bunch of backstory explaining the history behind the setting: the rise of the corporations, the formation of the Geki, that sort of thing. You know, now that everything’s been blown up and none of it is relevant any more. Now that’s what I call good storytelling!
Yeah, not going to hold you in suspense over the final rating on this one: I hated this book probably more than any other book I’ve reviewed so far. Note that it’s only going to be a 1 because the ratings scale I use doesn’t employ any lower numbers; otherwise, the Dead Lesbian Penalties alone would be enough to take it to the negatives.
Because Violet and Vibeke? Main characters and teased romantic couple? Killed off. Because a new world might grow from the ashes of the old; but by God, it’s not going to have any lesbians in it. Oh, what, you thought that because the author chose to write a series with a lesbian main character and lesbian love interest that he might perhaps treat them differently than those authors who only introduce a minor lesbian character when they need someone to be the victim of a hate crime? Nope: just because they’re main characters having a romance in a series aimed at young adults doesn’t mean they get to live happily ever after. That’s only for straight couples, don’t you know?
On another topic, one thing that struck me as odd in the first book was the disappearance of Violet’s father’s body. I had the feeling it might eventually come back as a plot point; and sure enough, this one finally reveals that… no, sorry, I can’t bring myself to care. Do you expect me to give a fuck about a minor character from way back in the first book? Maybe I actually would, if it in any way tied in with the story of the main characters… oh, no, wait, it can’t, because you killed them! Well, forget it. It doesn’t matter what you do now, because I’ve lost interest. The characters, the story, the setting: I have no more fucks left to give.
You know what? I blame myself. I’ve gotten complacent. There was a time when as soon as I picked up a book with a lesbian main character, I’d immediately resign myself to it ending with her dying. That’s why I came up with the Dead Lesbian Penalty in the first place, after all: because I noticed that plenty of authors were happy to toss in a queer character for the appearance of diversity, but felt no need to extend their empty gesture to include a happy ending But lately I’ve been reading things like Kate Kane and Midnight Hunters and Wayfarers and the Mangoverse where LGBTQ+ characters are allowed to exist without having to suffer horribly and die tragically before the final pages, and it made me complacent. I picked up Valhalla, saw that it had a lesbian protagonist; and even though there were plenty of warning signs that this story wasn’t going to be so hot, I dared to think that it might head in a positive direction. Well, it sure taught me, didn’t it? Shows what I get for being nice, assuming the best, and giving this series a chance.
Oh, look, it seems I have one last fuck to give after all: Fuck this book. There, done. I’m out.
Final Rating: 1/5