After reading Nick Cole’s The End Of The World As We Knew It and Matthew Mather’s Nomad within a day of each other, I was mentally exhausted. The two books wore me out. I described how Cole’s book was an exercise in retracing our steps in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse yesterday, but Mather’s book was a visceral look at a very specific end of world event. Both had the hallmarks of apocalyptic fiction, but they were as different as can be when it comes to the action and plotting.
In Nomad, Matthew Mather tears things apart. Families, countries, economies, planets, galaxies…all get ripped apart between the covers of his latest novel. I read his earlier book from this year — Darknet — and found it frightening in a way that was almost difficult to describe. In Darknet, the threat is real, but invisible. In fact, the antagonist can strike and be gone again without you even knowing it, the only traces are digital breadcrumbs left in its wake.
In Nomad, Mather does it again, creating an invisible villain — the titular astronomical anomaly — but the effects this go-around are more immediate, more violent, more physical. Instead of bank accounts and identities being torn asunder, it is the literal earth that undergoes an upheaval in Nomad.
The story is fast-paced and energetic from the get-go, placing all of our characters in Rome. Some are there for pleasure, some for work, and others are trying to hide from the authorities. The latter is our young protagonist Jessica. We first meet her while she is on a tour of an Italian castle with her mother, but her story goes much deeper and gives her a rich and detailed backstory. In fact, as the story kept unfolding, we kept seeing new aspects of Jessica’s character that led to numerous “aha” moments. Mather wonderfully wove her story in the fabric of Nomad and gives us a great character we can live through in this book as well as others to come.
What was great about Mather’s previous books was the scientific reality he’d grounded things in from the technological terror of Darknet to the scenarios he plays out in CyberStorm. The same is true for Nomad, with actual astronomical possibilities. In fact, the very anomaly he showcases in the book popped up in the news as a discovery in just the last few months. The terror of space really isn’t what we can see — it is what we can’t see, and Mather proves it with this book.
Mather takes the reader on a wild ride, and all of it feels genuine and authentic. Our characters are real and we want them to be real and to make it in the face of overwhelming adversity. With all that can possibly go wrong, can humanity go on? What will an event like this bring out? The best, or the worst in us?
As for the next books in the planned trilogy, Mather certainly has a plan for the second book with the path for our characters, but planted enough seeds along the way to make sure the reader knows the path will be rocky and difficult. I massively enjoyed this book and am very much looking forward to Sanctuary.