Author: Vasily Pugh
Basically Frightened, that’s the title of the book not me announcing my feelings that my neighbour’s biological spawn might knock on my door to demands access to my secret candy collection at the end of October, is another apocalypse story. Basically Frightened kind of beat me to the punch on that joke though since it’s subtitle is “Yet Another Slice Of Post-Apocolyptia”, so clearly, this is a comedy book.
I’m, much like everyone else, getting a little tired of the apocalypse and the endless waves of zombie merchandise that comes with. However, I’m not so tired I can’t go in for a bit of parody or self-reference, and I liked the voice of the character in the blurb – so I went for it.
I was right to do so Basically Frightened managed to do the only thing that will keep my interest in an apocalypse scenario, and that is give me a really great main character. Our protagonist who I will call Practical (since we are never given a real name and Practical suits him), is in the middle of everything, class, age, political opinions, and he talks as such. He has a habit of pompously musing at inopportune times, laughing at his own little references and putting roman numerals instead of chapter titles for our benefit – that’s the kind of guy we’re dealing with. Practical moves along in his own little bubble of the apocalypse until two things persuade him he must move. The first is an attack upon his person when he’s out searching for supplies which, I might add, he always leaves an ‘IOU’ for at the various shops he’s looting, his own determined way of persuading himself the apocalypse in temporary. The second is the fact he’s noticed he has started to talk to himself, and he’s worried this is the first sign of a descent into madness and wearing pants on his head.
Practical has, evidently, a very comedic tone, and I did find him funny most of the time. The situation is your standard wham-bam apocalypse but Practical’s commentary is what makes the book worth reading. Although I will admit at first I was laughing at him rather than with him, but he grew on me like a pompous fungus. The supporting cast are amusing to, to name a few; the one famous guy in the group who no one recognises but are too ‘British’ to say, the teen girl who’s read too many Hunger Games books and finds when trying to emulate Katniss it doesn’t go so well for her, and the man whose dubbed himself ‘Jason Voorhees’ whose attempts to dick measure with the uninterested Practical are amusing to say the least.
Comedy was all I was actually expecting, but the author actually has an emotional narrative woven in there as well. For example, Practical never laments the loss of his unseen to us girlfriend, such a thing would lower the tone too far, but he does, without comment, keep her picture with him. It was parts like that that gave the book a human touch and made it a deeper experience than I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hardly Animal Farm, but it meant that in the moments where it wasn’t being funny (for nothing can be all the time) the book held my interest.
There’s a small problem with wordings, not so much typos as incorrect spellings used, for example, there’s a moment where a hand is put around someone’s ‘waste’. But it’s not that frequent and it’s never unclear what the author actually means, I think it’s a simple case of Grammarly gone walk about.
So for those looking for a fresh laugh or who just can’t get enough of apocalypse books you’ve just found your next read.
It’s time to open the shutters, put on your best shirt and leave your habitation – a new Post-Apocalyptic world awaits. On your journey you’ll meet the moderately deranged, the vaguely idiotic and those who think Dystopia might just be the biggest break they’ve had in years. This is the deliciously different post-Pandemic world of ‘Basically Frightened’, a book that combines thrills, spills and a dash of wit to shake the genre from the doldrums.