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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Book Review: Charlinder's Walk by Alyson Miers

This is a thought provoking story filled with societal issues.
Charlinder's Walk
by Alyson Miers
  • Paperback: 492 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace (October 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466443839
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466443839
Available in ebook and print
Genre: Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: October 16, 2011
In 2012, the Plague ended the world as we know it. In 2130, Charlinder wants to know why. The origin of the disease remains a mystery. Their ignorance of its provenance fuels a growing schism that threatens to destroy the peace that the survivors' descendants have built. Unwilling to wait for matters to get any worse, he decides to travel to where the Plague first appeared and find out the truth—which means walking across three continents before returning home. Charlinder has never been more than ten miles from home, has never heard anyone speak a foreign language, and he's going it alone. He survives thousands of miles of everything from near-starvation to near-madness before he meets Gentiola. By then he’s so exhausted that the story she offers to tell seems like little more than a diversion...until he hears it. Nothing could have prepared him for what he learns from her, and no one ever told him: be careful what you wish for. The world is a much bigger place than Charlinder knew, and his place in it is a question he never asked before.

If you like discussions on social issues, you would like this book.
Charlinder is a 2o year old young man living in a small, 150 member, post-Plague community.   The only history that exists to try to explain what happened right after the plague, 118 years prior,  is a diary of an independent, fiery female, Eileen Woodlawn, whose feminist views pushed against the religious views of the time.

Charlinder’s small community has been built around a matrilocal society where children are raised by mothers and their brothers as the head of household with limited contact with the natural father.  Many work chores are divided along gender lines with women being responsible for spinning and weaving, men being responsible for hunting and carpentry, and the elderly and younger contributing where ever they can with chores like cooking and cleaning. 

Charlinder is a dedicated teacher and he is lucky his community has allowed him to continue with a school that teaches reading, writing and arithmetic as well as science and history. Charlinder, an only child and a bit of a misfit, spends time spinning and weaving, skills taught by his mother.  His behavior is unusual but accepted, yet the religious enthusiasts are starting to put pressure on other community members, including Charlinder, to recognize and teach that the plague was a judgment by God to punish man for his sins.

When tempers and disputes flare, Charlinder determines that he must travel to Italy to discover how the virus plague really started.  Charlinder sets out to travel across the United States, through the Bering Strait to Russia and then South to Italy. He must rely on the kindness of strangers for shelter and food as he walks across the world. Although he takes time to prepare some supplies, in a world without technology, where all activities are mostly primitive, no one thinks ahead to all that he will face, especially the language barriers. 

Through the walk the author, Ms. Miers, reveals different cultural communities with different prejudices and  religious, political, racial and gender struggles. There are recurring themes touching on the repressive roles of women in many societies and the harsh and judgmental way that people can use religion to control others' actions instead of encouraging tolerance.  The author shows that there is a never ending battle between the supporters of logic and science versus supporters of faith.

I found the travels and communities quite interesting. However Charlinder ultimately meets up with Gentiola whose life, actions and explanations of the past stretch realism.  Her answers raise more questions and Char has to wonder ‘Can she be believed?’  The best thing that comes from Charlinder’s thousand miles of walking is the influence he, even just one man, has along the way, and his own commitment to increased teaching and knowledge.
The writing flow is smooth and easy reading. Charlinder is a likeable character, if a bit odd. Although the community sexual system was not to my liking, I cannot say it is immoral without being judgmental on the societal choice.  This is suitable for mature YA and adults but, in addition to social issues engaging some thought effort, I caution parents that there is some open sexual discussion and activity. I’d say this story is best read with an open mind that is willing to see and ponder the dilemma of cultural oppressions. 

Gentiola complains to Charlinder:
Everyone learns history, but no one learns from it. Page 312.
Religion may be just a myth to you, but it is far more than a mistaken idea about the past you’ll be asking you neighbors to give up. Page 325.
Memory of another survivor explaining that Eileen has preconceived ideas just like the religious factions:
One’s religion is not the name of the church you visit, or the book you quote. It is the way you conduct yourself to others,”...  Page 343.
 Gentiola discusses tradition with Charlinder:
....there is no end to the ways that people are limited by societies hiding behind the safety of routine. It may help maintain stability, but tradition should never be used as a substitute for thinking for oneself. Page 392.
Thank you to the author and Novel Publicity for providing the book for review and hosting the Giveaways for this blog tour.  For a chance to win the book and/or an Amazon Gift Card please see the Author Interview and Giveaway Post. 
I will add this to my Post-Apocalyptic, New Author and ARC challenges.


  1. Charlinder is a likeable character, if a bit odd.

    He's an odd duck and he knows it!

    Thanks for giving my book a chance, Martha! I appreciate your review.

  2. Fantastic review, Martha. I'm just starting in on Charlinder and really enjoy him so far. I love books that make me think, seems like this would make a good book club selection. Is that right?

    Thanks for being a part of this tour, and please remember to cross-post your review to Amazon and GoodReads!


Your comments are always appreciated!


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