Astbury slices a bit of life from a stunning, unique post apocalyptic world in "War Blanket". Readers are immersed through the narrative of the main character.
Because of the point of view and how much control Astbury has over the specific physical and emotional details given to us through his main characters eyes, I felt like I was a denizen of their world. I had to remind myself to be distant and analytical, so I would have some criticism to offer. This quality of writing is what I have come to expect from Astbury. I read this novel in only a few hours, and though I am exhausted, (from life not from reading) I was compelled to finish "War Blanket". His work contains some kind of innate mystic charge that stoked something deep inside me. Once I'm touched in such a fashion, I wonder how and why, and I read more trying desperately to hang on to the interconnectivity. Astbury does this through his language, literary devices (most notably evocative similes and rich imagery), strong, invasive narration and consequently unparalleled characterization.
I want to explain what I mean by invasive narration. Since this story is told from first person, everything is filtered through his main character. Sometimes the sheer amount of detail is so great, that I felt inescapably anxious when the main character did, or worried, or just plain dumbfounded. When I experience such empathy for a character it speaks volumes for an author's talent. Transferring emotive force like this from paper to reader is integral. In creative writing classes and workshops, this is the kind of writing you are told you need to do to succeed. Astbury accomplishes this effortlessly.
In terms of criticism, I really have none. I tried so hard to detach myself from: the narrative, the plot, all the little awesome details that make this part light sci-fi, part post apocalyptic setting unique, the constantly evolving characterization, the literary techniques... I could not. It was impossible. So, I literally cannot criticize "War Blanket". It demanded my attention. The reader in me was flabbergasted, and the writer in me was envious.
Astbury has achieved so much with "War Blanket". So, much, that I'm going to just shut up and tell you that I'm recommending this book for anyone who loves: strong literary voices, uniquely rendered settings and characters and organic plots that just sweep you off your feet and leave you begging for more. If you want to experience the excellence of indie publishing, look no further. Read "War Blanket".
I'm giving "War Blanket" 5/5 stars, obviously. It told me to so, what else can I do?