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Old 02-22-2009, 07:50 PM   #1
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Discussion: Refuge by Richard Herley (spoilers)

Hello all.. welcome to the discussion thread for the MobileRead Book Club February 2009 book selection. This was a good one and lots to talk about. So, lets get started.

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Old 02-22-2009, 08:07 PM   #2
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I almost gave up on this book after the first two chapters, but I am glad that I did not.

For me, violence, and especially sexual violence, is a turn-off in a story. There has to be something engaging about the story to keep me from setting at aside and reading something else.

I enjoyed the complexity of the characters, and that it was hard to pin them down as a simple archetype.
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:17 PM   #3
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My biggest problem with the story was the complete refusal of the community to fight for their women and men.

Would a global devastation turn people into such sheep, that they would allow a band of teen agers to control them to such an extent?

I realize the initial atrocities committed would stun anyone. However, once that wears off, its time to take kick some butt and take your lives back.

No one wants to die. But living like that is worse.

I did love the book, and the evolution of the main character.
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:18 PM   #4
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This book was definitely...visceral.

I'm so glad I read it though. It was a complete departure from what I normally read. I liked reading how people reacted in different ways to the annihilation of the human race. I think usually the story is how the world crumbles (man,, I'm having trouble putting this into words), not how the survivors survive after the fact.

My only question was how are they getting gasoline? Doesn't it degrade after a while?

Anyway, I think the most moving part for me was the hospital scene. That was sad
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:35 PM   #5
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My biggest problem with the story was the complete refusal of the community to fight for their women and men.

Would a global devastation turn people into such sheep, that they would allow a band of teen agers to control them to such an extent?

I realize the initial atrocities committed would stun anyone. However, once that wears off, its time to take kick some butt and take your lives back.

No one wants to die. But living like that is worse.

I did love the book, and the evolution of the main character.
It surprised me, too. The people seemed very passive and timid. How do people with those personality traits manage to survive for over a decade with limited resources?

Maybe there's a tradeoff between the ability to co-operate peacefully, and the ability to co-operate to fight against an external threat?
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:58 PM   #6
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It surprised me, too. The people seemed very passive and timid. How do people with those personality traits manage to survive for over a decade with limited resources?

Maybe there's a tradeoff between the ability to co-operate peacefully, and the ability to co-operate to fight against an external threat?
Co-operating peacefully within a group in order to survive is easy.

You do that or die.

But, if you cannot band together to protect your own, you will surely be eliminated by the first threat that comes along.

Thats what happened to the other villages that these miserable low lifes visited, and what would have happened to this one had it not been for Suter.
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Old 02-22-2009, 09:12 PM   #7
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I thoroughly enjoyed Refuge, although I wouldn't have minded slightly less detailed info about the guns

I did find it a little odd that England just before the catastrophe (2016ish? Can't remember off hand ) ) seemed to bear a marked resemblance to an earlier England (definitely 1970s, and probably earlier, although I wasn't around then), but not so much that it was jarring. And it did help suggest why some of the survivors at least were behaving how they did.

I could see how that comunity had survived for so long without a communal backbone though - they had a leader who told them what to do. They had enough will and common sense to flock to some-one who seemed to be in control, but beyond that... Without him around, they were helpless, as witnessed by most of them not wanting to do anything against the incomers after he'd been taken prisoner. And there is also a subsection of the populace, certainly in England, who seem to believe that most teens are the spawn of satan, and only out to cause harm and chaos, but who are too scared of what will happen to them to do anything about it.

The hospital and football ground scenes were the ones that really helped me visualaise how England was - largely because I have a better recollection of them than some of the other places mentioned!

I almost thought that Richard Herley was going to pull a "Jacob's Ladder" ending at the end - I'm rather glad he didn't as I felt the main character deserved better than that
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Old 02-22-2009, 09:13 PM   #8
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I read it at work during breaks, and people kept glancing over my shoulder at the giant 200% zoom and seeing things that shocked them. I don't enjoy books with violence, and there was plenty of it here.

As I read, I kept looking for the types of refuges. The main character is very unsocial and seems to have been that way even before the plague. He had external refuges, especially his home, which he had turned into a fortress. Why did he need so much firepower if he believed he was the last man alive?

He also has his internal refuges. He clings to the memory of a woman who betrayed him. As the story unfolds, we learn that the woman had left him before the plague. Furthermore, he has a continuous dialog with himself, and through these conversations, it is revealed that he does not really believe in himself as a good or brave man.

The townspeople were a disappointment to me also, as they seem to be to the members above. When their refuge, the town itself, was violated, instead of defending themselves, they gave up all power and became, in a way, refugees. They lost the ability to decide how to live as a community.

As a story, I think it would work much better as a short story. Lose all of the boring descriptions of every tree, path, and building. It screams "FILLER." Lose the gay sexual abuse sub-plot because it doesn't add a single thing to the plot. Instead, concentrate on his isolated existence in his fortress home, finding the dead man in the river, and the action throughout the rest of the book. I think it is a good idea and would have a good chance of selling, if it were tightened up.
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Old 02-22-2009, 09:28 PM   #9
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I really enjoyed the character development of the protagonist. I could really understand where the leader of the pack of jackals became who he was. I think I would have liked a bit more on the development of Suter, though. Some fleshing out of the pre-plague background. He seemed rich, but was it only his parents' money? That sort of thing.
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Old 02-22-2009, 09:59 PM   #10
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I *really* liked this book. I guess I just like survivor tales. But most are fanciful, with heroes that know no fear, situations that don't seem real.

I loved the realism, or what I perceive as realistic scenarios, real reactions, realistic inclusions of equipment and how real knife fighting goes, dog packs, and physical symptoms of fear. Suter seemed a real person, not the typical male hero character in a book.

This book got my heart beating a few times, a page-turner, uh, page-button-pusher.

4.5 stars out of 5, only because my mind pictures of the scenes just came out dark, I don't know why. Does an ebook reader do that? Or the rainy climate of England? Or maybe just a realistic lack of post apocalypse color? Also a small thing, but I'd like the ending to have occurred a little bit later, maybe a page or two showing a later time, a month or more later. I guess I liked Suter and his flaws, and wanted to see him succeed in this community. (But that kind of ending might have been difficult to pull off without dragging down the story.) I'd round up to 5 if no half-points were allowed.

Good point about the fuel, though maybe diesel lasts longer than gasoline. Ammunition goes bad, though none seemed to in the story.

Good point about the sheepishness of the community in light of the killings and rapes. Maybe a slightly different development of Philip Davies' leadership, or adherence to some passive stricture of their religion could have made it more believable.

I noticed more than usual the differences between the King's English and American English:

My American dictionary failed on
- "louche" (as in louche subversiveness),
- "eidetic" (as in eidetic detail)

Some phrases such as "put paid to" (as in "A few more sturdy kicks put paid to enough of the panel to let him through") are new to me.

And "puissant" was not only abundant in the narrative, but was also spoken at least once by a character. Odd, as I don't think I've ever heard that word before.
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:33 PM   #11
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I'm going to put full impressions up later. Just an interesting fact, I put this book into LibraryThing (which I do after each book I read now). It wasn't found at amazon, maybe this one was never published? I don't know. So I had to add it manually.

But, 1 other member had it. And we share 19 books. That's alot considering I only have 453 books read/listed.

BOb
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:58 PM   #12
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As I read, I kept looking for the types of refuges. The main character is very unsocial and seems to have been that way even before the plague. He had external refuges, especially his home, which he had turned into a fortress. Why did he need so much firepower if he believed he was the last man alive?

Do you remember about the dogs? He truly felt he was the last man alive, and had to forage far and wide for supplies. He had to live 'off the land'. Of course he needed a firepower. Without that, how would he be able to protect himself from animals? Once civilization dies, and the wilds really take over....who know what is going to be out there?

And, I think in the back of his head, he wanted to be prepared for every eventuality. He was a survivor.

Life isn't 'nice'. You may not like stories about violence and sexual overtones, but its occurring all over the world now. People who are too weak to defend themselves will always be oppressed.

People who take advantage of the weak aren't "nice". They come with a full range of sexual and violent appetites that aren't spoken about at the dinner table. The scenes described were very appropriate for this book.

In a world that Mr. Herley speaks of, you are either the victim or the monster, unless you have the guts to stand up and fight for what is yours.

I must say, Suter was starting to annoy me, until I realized.......this is a true hero. He was terrified thruout, yet kept doing what he knew was right. Especially at the end. Heroes aren't like what we see on TV........they cry, they shake with fear. But.......they keep doing what they know they have to.

Last edited by pilotbob; 02-22-2009 at 11:29 PM. Reason: fixed quote markup
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Old 02-22-2009, 11:04 PM   #13
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I'm going to put full impressions up later. Just an interesting fact, I put this book into LibraryThing (which I do after each book I read now). It wasn't found at amazon, maybe this one was never published? I don't know. So I had to add it manually.

But, 1 other member had it. And we share 19 books. That's alot considering I only have 453 books read/listed.

BOb
I don't think it was ever published, except for on his site.
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Old 02-22-2009, 11:05 PM   #14
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As a story, I think it would work much better as a short story. Lose all of the boring descriptions of every tree, path, and building. It screams "FILLER." Lose the gay sexual abuse sub-plot because it doesn't add a single thing to the plot. Instead, concentrate on his isolated existence in his fortress home, finding the dead man in the river, and the action throughout the rest of the book. I think it is a good idea and would have a good chance of selling, if it were tightened up.
I disagree. I thought the descriptions helped fill in what things might look like after a period of time..

The gay sexual abuse sub-plot does add to the story, because it describes how power is used. Power isn't always about shooting someone. Rape is a power trip from the git go. How did Bex keep his minions in control? By allowing them to do what they wanted...and he knew what they wanted.....he was a brilliant sociopath.

I wouldn't change anything.......except I wondered how these people would react if the same thing happened again, and their new leader was shot right off the bat........
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Old 02-23-2009, 02:51 AM   #15
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