Imagine being in your car one day and suddenly all the people vanish. The cars, trucks and buildings are still there. The animals are still there also but they’re not how they use to be. The world is a different place, there are forces at work that are changing everything and they may never be the same.
This is the story behind Sumiko Saulson’s Solitude. Solitude is about seven very different people and how they react to being alone after civilization disappears. One of them goes mad and talks to people who aren’t there. One goes to the zoo and frees all the animals and two others treat the whole situation like they are trapped in a video game.
When I first heard of Solitude I really liked the idea. The concept of being totally alone is a fear of mine and I was curious as to how each character would react, but there is more to the story then that. Solitude also gets into mythology and the supernatural as you find out why things are the way they are.
There is a lot to like about Solitude. One of those things is how the city of San Francisco itself is a character. Even though I’ve never been there , I felt I had been when I was done reading it. Sumiko really did her homework in the writing of this book. Each time there was an isolation as its called in the book, it corresponds to an earthquake that really happened. The book also gets into religion and touches on the subject of how something sinister can effect us on a personal level and how our world can be changed when something wants what we have.
One of my favorite scenes in the book was when a spirit takes over one of the character’s bodies and cries as he realizes that another character has died. At this point you are thinking that the spirit is evil and even the person whose body the spirit takes over wonders if the spirit is faking, but you soon find out that the spirit is not what it seems. I also liked the character of Angela who seems to be at the mercy of several external influences. I looked at her as a tragic character, she comes across as evil in the book but she doesn’t try to be, she just reacts to things in her environment the wrong way.
If I was to compare Solitude to anything, it would probably be to Stephen King’s The Stand or Beneath The Dome. You can also compare Sumiko’s writing to Anne Rice. The subject matter may not be the same but Anne Rice got into her character’s heads and Sumiko Saulson does the same thing. By the end of the book I felt I knew each character personally and it was hard to see them suffer.
I would classify this book as psychological horror. Because Sumiko doesn’t seem satisfied giving you a book that will entertain you and give you a couple of quick scares. No that’s to easy, Sumiko wants to make you think and then give you nightmares. Twice while reading this book I stopped and thought about the ideas that Sumiko was trying to get across, such as being at the mercy of forces greater than yourself and the idea of a world within a world.
The tone of the book is a little depressing and I would have liked a couple more action scenes but this is a great read. A sequel to Solitude is on its way called Disillusionment and I for one look forward to seeing where Sumiko goes with it. If you ever wondered what it would be like to be alone and at the mercy of powerful spirits, you should check this one out.