cover image Vestiges of Flames

Vestiges of Flames

Lyn McConchie. Lethe (, $18 trade paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-59021-483-1

New Zealand author McConchie’s sterile postapocalyptic novel reads more like an idealized travelogue mixed with exigency plans. Only 1% of Earth’s population remains alive after a global pandemic. Jo Taylor, a 21-year-old New Zealand college student, is among the survivors; her mother has died and her father is trapped in America. Jo gathers resources and departs the capital city of Wellington, seeking safety in less-populated areas. She encounters other survivors, some of whom she bands with to deal with threats such as roaming dog packs and brutal authoritarians. After Jo gets in trouble, she and several other women are rescued by grim, borderline-sociopathic Shay Griffin; their group travels to a former rape crisis center, where Jo and Shay become romantic partners and contribute to the establishment of a semipagan women-centric colony, under the leadership of Dana Cybele (aptly named after two different mother goddesses). Shifting points of view detract from the story’s dramatic elements, most of which read like disaster-preparedness thought exercises. (July)