• Book Review: 'A Journal of the Crazy Year' by Forrest Carr


    "This is crazy, John. Crazy!" Maria vents to John Cruz, the liberal protagonist of A Journal of the Crazy Year by Forrest Carr. Her sentiment sums up the chaotic tone of this apocalyptic horror novel about a doomsday that involves a mysterious zombie-like plague and a comet.

    The prologue set in 1918, presents the enigma of the disorder affecting countless of people. The opening of the present story is as strange: It's 2014, and John Cruz wakes up in a mental hospital after three years of being unconscious. His psychiatrist, Dr. Patel, informs him of his treatment and the disorder that defies science. The whole world is struggling against this chaotic confusion. Thanks to news reports, Cruz becomes aware of mass shootings, histories of comets, the state of emergency, and a lot of science.

    Carr's impressive scientific and historical details elaborately frame the danger of the unknown. The origins of the comets and some cool references to Atlantis and the Genesis flood, interestingly make a point that history is about to repeat itself. There's education and mystification in the midst of the thrilling narrative, and they fit well.

    Dr. Marcia asks John to write journal entries for the sake of mental evaluation, so he writes reflectively, often summarizing his experiences from each chapter, reflecting his part, or praying to a god whom he's struggling to connect with. There's a World War Z-feel to this journalistic approach, and Carr
    a journalist himself makes his voice sound introspective and personal.

    The first act feels slow, but it feels as though destruction could erupt anytime soon. The dialogues between John and his faithful wife Maria consist of declarations of love, arguments about faith or gun control, and corny jokes. Some are thought-provoking, especially the arguments about gun control; while some are just pointless bickers.

    The middle is where hell breaks loose. Although they are trying to survive the apocalypse of the "crazies", zombie-like people infected by S.O. P.S. (Sudden Onset Psychosis Syndrome). They're similar to the "phoners" from Stephen King's Cell –erratic and unpredictable. They run away from them with a breathless pace, and the action scenes look realistic but none of them are surprising. The more important problem seems to be John's views on gun control and religion. Carr presents both sides of the argument well, topping it off with a thought-provoking point: "The species is the problem.". There's also a fine reference to Dante's Inferno amidst the chaos.

    If you like World War Z, Cell, or other apocalyptic stories that inquisitively examine the humans' dark psyches and moral tendencies, A Journal of the Crazy Year is worth checking out.
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