Like most novels I read, the world has ended. The bombs flew and while the anti-missile systems took them down before they landed, they still exploded, turning the Earth into a radioactive wasteland. The only known survivors are the poor people who made it down into Moscow’s extensive metro system.
This is actually the third book in the series. Metro 2033 and 2034 being the other two. Both were turned into highly successful, and seriously awesome, horror video games. It’s only fitting that the source material is just as good, and many times better, than the media it inspired.
2035 returns to the hero of 2033 who was rudely skipped over in 2034. Artyom, still beset with guilt over his murder of the “dark ones” heads to the surface as often as he can, convinced there are other people out there. Somewhere beyond the metro. He’s tired of living in filth and squalor and he wants what is best for himself and his people. When a strange old man known as Homer seeks out the hero of the Red Line, Artyom initially refuses. Until Homer tells him that he knows a man who has been in radio contact with the outside world. Artyom sets off with Homer to prove once and for all that they can live outside the Metro.
It’s hard for an uneducated person like me to make this call. But I believe the Metro series can be considered as high art. If you’ve read any of them, you know how deep the rabbit hole goes into the depravities of life after the apocalypse, and the meandering, sometimes panicked stroll through the fragile psyches of the main characters as the encounter horror after horror. 2035 may be the most depressing of all. Grotesque scenes fill the reader with flashbacks of Heart of Darkness. Is it gratuitous for gratuitous’ sake? Maybe. Doesn’t mean it isn’t any less powerful. You feel that the author has earned this right. Because the world he has created and occupied is very real and very detailed. Anything that happens in it feels like it could actually happen.
Many times though, I found myself missing the aspects of the first novel that were so prominent. The communist, capitalist, nazi struggle is still there. The outer regions fending for themselves still get screen time. But the otherworldly, radioactive menace is gone. There’s no more ghosts or unseen monsters. It’s briefly explained away how they could disappear in such a short time. But the horror elements those brought were both fun and unique. Now, all the horror is in human nature. Which is quite horrifying in itself. But I miss the flight of men trying to escape things they can’t understand.
For non sci-fi fans, this will be a difficult pill to swallow. But it should go down as a classic. The whole series that is. Dive into the horrors of the metro.
3 1/2 out of 4 stars.