“The Border” by Robert R McCammon

About the book
Earth has become a battleground between two alien races. The surviving humans call them Gorgons and Cyphers. The two races wage an ancient war against each other using advanced technology, and Earth just happened to get in their way. Humans are by and large an inconvenience to be ignored or eradicated, or used as tools, depending on the situation. The war has ravaged Earth to the point where soon it will no longer be able to sustain human life. It’s also slowly poisoning the few surviving humans, turning them into Gray Men that feed off the survivors.

The book follows a group of humans from a fortified settlement in Colorado. A teenage boy, Ethan, who has lost all memory of who he is and where he’s been, arrives at the settlement. Pretty soon it becomes obvious to both Ethan and the other humans that he is different in a way that could provide them with a course of action that just might save them all.

My thoughts
This story is dark and gritty and dirty and absolutely horrifying. It made me want to weep for the human race, because, just like the characters in the book, I just couldn’t see how anything could turn out ok. Even if, by some miracle, they could end the war and get rid of the invaders, Earth is dying and humans are turning into Gray Men right before our eyes. Utter hopelessness.

I love the idea of alien invasion that essentially has nothing to do with humanity or Earth. We just happened to get in the way. I find it almost satisfying to read something from a human perspective where, rather than being the center of the universe, humanity is almost insignificant. It’s a new take on a classic theme that is refreshing as well as interesting.

The characters in the Border are well drawn, but less pronounced than in Stinger. The people are all so dejected, so utterly despondent and filled with loss and hopelessness, that they tend to blend together in some ways, with the exception of the boy, Ethan. I think that works well.  I cheer them on, urge them to hang on to what little hope and strength they have, but I also sympathize with the desire to give up and let go. I, too, am filled with despair and sorrow as I follow their endeavors. And because I am so there, so dejected on their behalf, I’m not sure if I like the ending. When it finally comes, the end seems sudden and difficult to trust. I want to like it, I’m just not sure I buy it. I almost feel cheated.

Despite a somewhat doubtful and sudden ending, the Border is a great read. I give it StarsFour.

About the author
Robert Rick McCammon was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1952. Between 1978 and 1993 he published a dozen novels and one collection of short stories. In 1993 he retired from writing, citing depression, exhaustion from overwork, a desire to spend more time with his family, and frustration with publishers, who insisted he limit himself to writing genre horror fiction when he wanted to explore other literary forms.
Source: http://www.robertmccammon.com/articles/mccammon-bio.html

As of 2002 he is writing again, and The Border (his latest novel) was published in May 2015.

Buy it
Buy The Border on Amazon.
Buy The Border at Barnes & Noble.