Book Review: The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter

TheRainNeverCameAbout the Book

In a thirsty, drought-stricken Australia, the country is well and truly sunburnt. As the Eastern states are evacuated to more appealing climates, a stubborn few resist the forced removal. They hide out in small country towns – where no one would ever bother looking.  Bill Cook and Tobe Cousins are united in their disregard of the law. Aussie larrikins, they pass their hot, monotonous existence drinking at the barely standing pub.  When strange lights appear across the Western sky, it seems that those embittered by the drought are seeking revenge. And Bill and Tobe are in their path. In the heat of the moment secrets will be revealed, and survival can’t be guaranteed.

Format: ebook, paperback (262 pp.) Publisher: Odyssey Press
Published: 25th May 2017                    Genre: Science Fiction

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My Review

The Rain Never Came situates the reader in a drought stricken Australia with a distinctly post-apocalyptic feel.  The long drought has resulted in a division in the country leaving a lawless, wild area that government forces have struggled to control.  Those left ‘beyond the line’ face being rounded up and sent to government camps with an uncertain future. ‘The Brisbane line.  The southern-most border of “civilised” Australia, sealing off the majority of the population from the desiccated wasteland that some of us still called home.’

The protagonists, Bill and Tobe have a longstanding friendship characterised by jokes, shared cultural references and love of a good time.   ‘Tobe stood there, squinting in the sun with an easy smile on his face.  He was my oldest friend, my best mate, the brother I never had.’  However, not all the memories they share are good ones and there are limits to what both of them are prepared  – or courageous enough – to reveal to the other.  Bill is our narrator so Tobe always remains a bit of an enigma, particularly because of his mysterious comings and goings, his secretive nature and the odd nuggets of knowledge he occasionally reveals.  However, Tobe is the more adventurous of the two and, as Bill admits, ‘a little manic’.

Those still residing in the east, like Bill and Tobe, face a daily struggle for survival, constantly short of food and water.  ‘Our ravaged world was utterly unmoved by the life that trod upon it.’ The bleak reality of the arid, drought-stricken environment of Australia is evocatively described.  ‘I could see to the horizon – a parched land of dying trees, bleached grass, dead towns.  A world of thirst and ruin that sprawled as far as we could see.’

When strange lights are seen in the distance one night, it’s Tobe who persuades Bill they should investigate.  What follows is an incident and curiosity filled road trip with some shocking and quite gruesome findings.  What the pair discover will alert them to just how precarious is the civilisation they thought they knew.  Along the way, the bonds of friendship will be severely tested, traumatic events of the past will come to light and they will experience firsthand what the necessity of survival entails.

I really enjoyed The Rain Never Came for its exploration of the impact of extreme climate change and its engagement with themes such as freedom and authoritarianism.  The picture of a drought-stricken, lawless world was quite chilling.   Personally, I would have liked a bit more exposition about the events that led to the division of the country.

Lachlan has written extensively about Australian post-apocalyptic fiction and recently published a fascinating article about climate fiction very relevant to the themes explored in The Rain Never Came.  If your interest has been piqued by my review, why not read an extract from the book and my Q&A with Lachlan.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.   I’d like to thank Lachlan for his patience in waiting for his book to reach the top of my review pile.

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Try something similar…Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

LachlanWalterAbout the Author

Lachlan Walter is a writer and nursery hand (the garden kind, not the baby kind), and has completed a PhD in the relationship between Australian post-apocalyptic fiction and national identity. His debut novel The Rain Never Came has just been released by Odyssey Books, and he also writes science fiction criticism for Aurealis magazine and reviews for the independent ‘weird music’ website Cyclic Defrost. He loves all things music-related, the Australian environment, overlooked genres, and playing in the garden.

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