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Friday Favourites: The Beautiful Land

Published on 28 August, 2015

Authored by Titan Books

This week's Friday favourite is The Beautiful Land by Alan Averill, chosen by our press officer Lydia Gittins:

“Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy steals a time machine that’s low on batteries and attempts to save girl from impending annihilation... You know how this goes.”

I don’t think I even read the rest of the blurb I was too busy throwing money at the cashier and rushing home to read it.* Defining what makes this such a wonderful book is hard. This book is weird, in the best of all possible ways.

It opens with the interrupted suicide of one of the main characters – Tak O’Leary, a Japanese-American television host – as he receives a Matrix-esque phone call and subsequently disappears of the face of the Earth, much to the distress of estranged friend Samira Moheb, an Iranian-American military translator suffering from PTSD as a result of her time in the Iraq War.

As their timelines collide Averill cuts between the present and the past offering glimpses of them growing up and their lives as they part ways. There’s something very One Day about watching them fall in love without realisation across the years. You know, if One Day had involved Emma and Dexter racing through time dimensions, pursued by horrific Lovecraftian black birds and a fabulously evil doctor hell-bent on using them to force his way in to the perfect utopia he call “The Beautiful Land,” a place that shapes itself to its inhabitants dreams.

The Beautiful Land is a compelling, lyrical and sad read. But it’s also wonderfully funny and uplifting. Averill poignantly and honestly portrays Samira’s PTSD and Tak’s sense of detachment and loss, while the nightmare of his other-worldly (and even some of the this-worldly) creations are genuinely terrifying. The Beautiful Land isn’t just a weird sci-fi novel, it’s a captivating tale of loss, love and redemption that absolutely transcends genres. Plus it has time travel and killer crows.

Already read this, forced everyone you know to read because it changed your life and bought your nan two copies? Why not try our new Robert Brockway novel The Unnoticeables for a punk take on Lovecraftian horror?

* This was during my pre-Titan days, I am now allowed to pick reads from our extensive catalogue don’t worry!

Published in the UK & Australia by Titan Books; and in the US & Canada by Penguin Random House