I read The Book of Koli last year not knowing what to expect. I had heard Mike Carey was a well known comic book writer and wrote the critically acclaimed novel The Girl with all the Gifts. Other than that I was most definitely going into the unknown. In saying that, The Book of Koli was amazing and so different to any other dystopian novel I had read. It felt fresh and boy was I excited as I waited for The Trials of Koli.
The story takes place within a dystopian setting where much of the worlds population hangs by a thread. Setting off outside of ones village is a death sentence as creatures lurk, trees kill anything within reach, and Shunned Men will kill anyone they deem fit.
The Trails of Koli picks up right where The Book of Koli left off. The world is far into the future and has changed drastically. Chemical wars and science experiments have resulted in the population being reduced and population growth is becoming more and more impossible. Nature has also turned its back on humanity with trees now having the ability to kill people by releasing seeds that embed into human skin and absorb all of the nutrients until the individual is deed.
In book one, the main character of Koli had been exiled from the village of Mythen Road for stealing tech. The problem here is that only a selected few known as “Ramparts” are given the opportunity to handle tech. The tech that Koli steals is known as as “Dreamsleave”. This is sort of like an iPod/Music Player. Inside of the Dreamsleave lives Monono a super smart AI who has the ability to not only play the hottest jams of the past, but also the ability to guide Koli. Soon Monono becomes Koli’s most trusted companion.
Koli also luckily falls into the path of Ursula a healer who is equipped with a long forgotten technology known as the Drudge. The Drudge has the ability to detect diseases, heal illnesses and develop needed medicine. Along with Koli and Ursula, we have Cup who they take as a prisoner during their escape from a mess they found themselves in.
Together this unlikely trio decide to journey to London. Having heard a signal that pinpoints technology there, the three of them make their way to find it as it would give them the chance to save humanity before all human species are totally eradicated. The journey will be treacherous and one of the most daunting experiences of their lives.
Unlike the first book which is only told from the POV of Koli, this time around the story is also told from the perspective of Spinner Tanhide who is back in Mythen Road. A lot of s*** has gone down since Koli had to leave Mythen Road. Spinner is one of those people who is having to deal with the aftermath. In the first book, Koli, Haijon, and Spinner were the best of friends. Koli was also deeply in love with Spinner and saw a future with her. This all changed when Spinner decided to elope with and marry Haijon.
Things aren’t too great in the village as diseases are spreading and inner secrets are creating a lot of tension. Thus we follow Spinner as she must use her own initiative to save her village and it’s people.
So lets get down to my thoughts. Before beginning the book i was honestly very nervous about the direction the story was going to go. I had loved The Book of Koli so much that i had kept my fingers, toes, hell even my eyes crossed that The Trials of Koli would blow me away to smithereens. Blow me away to smithereens it did! As i write this review it has been an hour since i finished it and i just feel so full of happiness because of how much i loved this book. You know when you just wanna scream with joy but your body doesn’t know how to express it? That is how i feel.
Being reunited with Koli and his journey with his companions was wonderful. Koli has an absolute heart of gold and is as charming as ever. Although he is as what Monono calls him many times a “dopey boy”, he always means well and is eager to keep learning about the Old World. You can’t help but feel for him as all he has ever known is within the walls of Mythen Road. But slowly as he begins to journey into what is left in the world, he begins to learn and analyse what is before him. In his own charming way Koli makes sense of situations and the information he learns.
What really shines for me is Koli’s distinct voice. As i said before, he isn’t the most educated and literate of individuals and this is something we see through his pronunciations and use of words. For example, places like Birmingham are called “Birmagen”, London is “Ludden”, and England is “Ingland”. This adds to the fact that we aren’t in the world we once knew. But what is also great is that you can tell characters such as Ursula, Monono Spinner, and Cup have their own voices which when compared to Koli, they come across as more intelligent and less ignorant.
When considering the new edition of seeing things from the POV of Spinner, i thought this was a fantastic inclusion to the overall story and made everything feel much more fresher and interesting. We basically see how Spinner and the village of Mythen Road is coping after the incident with Koli. Things aren’t going as smoothly as she hoped but she must adapt quickly to rise above all of the politics. The Vennastins are a family who hold most of the tech and thus have the power to make decisions in Mythen Road It was super intriguing going from Koli’s journey outside of Mythen Road to Spinner who is within the walls of the village. Spinner is definitely different to Koli in so many ways. She loves learning and is constantly analysing the knowledge she has gained and finding ways to make use of it. I would also add that she is more cunning in this book (we see glimpses of this in the first book) and sees things from outside the box.
You also see how fricking political and back stabby those in power are through the eyes of Spinner. It added to the tension because at times Spinner does cross the line and that fear of “shit they’re going to kill her off” lingers from beginning to end.
When considering the side characters, they again add so much depth to the story. I have so much love for the character of Ursula as she is so intelligent and an ass kicking badass. I liked how years of travelling alone mean she is always on the edge when meeting new people. For example, she is reluctant to accept Cup into the group and still remains tentative about trusting Monono due to the fear she will hack into the Drudge. But slowly you see her lower her guard just a wee bit.
Monono is also such a wonderful and likable character, even though she is AI she feels so human and real. I loved her friendship and bond with Koli. So much so that i always had this fear that my heart would break if they both ended up getting separated. Monono advises and consoles Koli whenever he has doubts or needs information. The fact that they would both do anything for each other was truly heart warming.
Then we have the character of Cup. Cup for me was great as at first she isn’t the most liable of individuals having attempted to kill Ursula and Koli. However, as the story goes on and trust is built she becomes an important member of the group. There is also trans representation through the character of Cup. I thought Mike Carey showcased the issues she faces very well. Even during a time where most of the population has been wiped out, transphobia still exists and is something individuals face. Cup also faces issues with her own body as it is on the cusp of puberty and a lot changes are happening to her body. This is something she must overcome throughout the story and with the help of her companions she makes progress.
“Puberty is super-hard on tram kids. Back in the old days, there were medicines that would have helped Cup through that. These days, I’m guessing, not so much”
The final few points i am going to make is about the world building in this novel and the series so far. The world building in all honesty is terrifying because it feels like our world could end up the same way due to conflicts, climate change, and global warming.
The most terrifying notions in this novel is the fact that trees are basically alive and will eat you alive within the blink of an eye. You’d think it being sunny would be great during a journey but in this case? NOOOOOOOOPE! Trees are most active during periods of direct sunlight. So travelling through dense foressets during these times is asking for trouble. There are also a range of monsters like huge snakes, mole type creatures, and deadly ice bears! I for one would probably sleep with one eye open if they were real lol.
“The wind was like a bear throwing its shoulder against the walls of our house ever and again. trying to knock it down. Then come the thunder, which was like Stannabanna was cheering the bear on to its work.”
Creatures aren’t the only thing in the way of the characters. A group known as the Half Axes lead by “The Peacemaker” are a dangerous bunch who have aim to take away tech from people. The Peacemaker believes all tech should be under his control.
“The Peacemaker passed a law saying all the tech in Ingland belonged to him. He sent word out to all the villages around, to tell them if they harboured tech they was now enemies of Half-Ax.”
Overall, i can not tell you how excited i am for The Fall of Koli! The Trials of Koli ends with a cliff-hanger so good that i wanted to scream “I NEED BOOK 3 NOW”. Mike Carey has left me on the edge of my seat as he has made me so emotionally attached to the characters and their journey. Thank you to the lovely Angela and Orbit for sending me a copy of the book 😊