Lynn Blackmar is a graduate of a small college in Virginia and a former education writer. She lives in Atlanta with three cats and a two-foot koi, where she enjoys video games, tabletop gaming, ethnic restaurants, and siege weapons.
Train to Nowhere strikes me as a fiction book about culture shock. Once you get into the story, the world of the trains is fascinating, but as the character grapple with their own culture shock, the reader feels the pressure of trying to understand the viewpoints of the characters birthed by these clashing cultures. The two main characters, Garland and Hedge, come from vastly different cultures, and the book switches between their points of view. The world is post-apocalyptic with a strong rule, but I was fascinated that this wasn’t judged as bad, just as different, and that events in the past led to the divisions in the cultures portrayed in the story. So, while this could be considered dystopian, I would regard it more like fantasy or science fiction with a post-apocalyptic twist.
Hedge comes from a Amish-like culture. As a character, he is compelling, with such strong flaws that you can’t help but wonder where his story is going. Garland is from a more science fiction-influenced rave culture, with relaxed boundaries compared to the more moral population of Hedge’s culture. I had a little more trouble becoming enveloped in Garland’s story, because I felt like he was too naive at times. Perhaps that’s my own cynical nature in conflict. There is a third culture, the Nomads, which are styled from tribal societies, but it is awhile in the book before we learn more about them. The three cultures are generally kept separate, and rarely mix, which causes the dramatic sense of culture shock for both of the main characters, and the readers by extension.
The change of points of view was a little startling, but showed the cultures from their own perspectives. There was enough time before each switch to ingrain the reader into the character, which is a weakness of other books I’ve read in a similar style. I do think the culture shock may be too great for some readers, and that might frighten them away. It might have been easier to have Hedge introduce the reader into the book, as his culture is more familiar to modern readers than the cultures of the Orphans.
I didn’t notice any glaring grammatical or spelling mistakes. This book seems well-edited, and the .mobi format worked fine on my Kindle Fire.