The second time is the charm
I didn’t have to think much when asked to review Green Panthers by Tom Vater. I have already reviewed one of his books last year, and I remember clearly how good he was at crafting a compelling story against a quite apocalyptic background. And I remember vividly the character from Kolkata Noir, because of how original they were when compared to many others.
And I’m glad I said yes, because I liked this book even more than the first one. If the story of Kolkata Noir was a little less slow-paced and less shocking, Green Panthers is full of surprises from page one.
One thing is clear: Tom Vater is super concerned with climate change, as we all should be. But as opposed to me and how I look at such a threat as something too close and plausible to be thought of rationally, he can look at the threat in its own eyes and write a story about hope in an almost doomed world.
It you’ve watched Don’t Look Up you’ll have a sense of deja-vu in some part of the book, but they’ll fade away before you can linger on the similarity for too long. Yes, many tropes of the apocalyptic genre are subverted in Black Panthers, even though the genre in itself is quite new.
In Green Panthers, Tom Vater was able to surprise us readers at least as much as The Green Panthers themselves are surprised when their mission to save a snow leopard turns into something bigger and more compelling. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting many of the turns the story took, and I expected many others that didn’t happen, but I love well-crafted surprises and so this made the experience even better.
Each one of the characters was unique in their own way, multi-faceted and complicated just the way I like characters to be. The pickiest part of myself thought that the big bad villain fell a little flat at times, but not so much to break my immersion in the story. But it fit the story perfectly and still left a lot of room for surprises.
It got quite confused at times, and there were a few things I had to go back and re-read. But somehow it never managed to break the immersion in a world that at times looked much too close to the world we live in.
I spent a lot of time as I read the book asking myself, how could things snowball like that in just six years, that’s impossible. But then I was like, am I sure it’s not possible?
The apocalypse depicted in the book is caused by climate change, sure, but not only by that. Mankind plays a greater part in it than we usually attribute to it, and in an uncomfortably believable way. As a reader, it makes you think a lot. And it also keeps you turning pages, one after the other, to figure out if there actually is a way out from a situation so desperate.
Will it work? Well, I know the answer already. You’ve got to read the book to figure it out…