I finished reading Davis M. J. Aurini’s novel, “As I Walk These Broken Roads”, at the first of last week and I’ll be the first to say (hopefully not), that I was blown away. This isn’t faint praise because as someone who reads nearly four to five books a week, half of them fiction, because there’s only so much truth one man can take, what Davis has written here is something that I can’t praise enough. Let me put it to you this way, I was so engrossed in his narrative that I spent most of last week re-reading it to the detriment of my own posts on this site.
It’s that type of novel. I don’t know how to describe it genre wise because it doesn’t fall into any genre that I can identify. On the surface it might appear to be one of the ubiquitous post-apocalyptic novels out there. Or it might be one of the science fiction after the nuclear war types of novels. I didn’t get that impression either way, what I experienced reading it is that it’s about men trying to make the best life for themselves in trying circumstances and being honorable in the process.
The characters are the real reason this book is so engaging. Between Wentworth and Raxx, you realize that Davis has a good understanding that there are real characteristics that men exhibit and that these are real men who care that what they do means something and realize that what they have is worth protecting and nothing outside of that means shit else.
The dialogue is gritty and comes closer to the truth how men talk to each other than nearly any other novel I’ve read. Wentworth is a former soldier who’s finally figured out that the orders that are coming down from on high are bullshit, has deserted and is on the run from his former Regiment and Raxx is probably the only mechanic left on a planet that has long deserted technology. But the dialogue between the two men has more truth than anything I’ve seen in a long time between men. Through a seemingly accidental meeting due to necessity they seem to realize early on that they have more to offer each other being a team than trying to go their own way no matter how uncomfortable it might seem. The interaction between these men that find themselves compadres really makes a lot of the dialogue pop, these days, men don’t find themselves depending on each other the way these two men do and the way they bind themselves to each other is a refreshing example from the narcissistic examples that are exposed to us in everything media these days. The action sequences that result from what reality doses to these two men are in a word, believable.
I’ve read a few reviews of this novel that say that they didn’t like the way it ended but in my humble opinion it ended the way it should have. When Raxx says in the end, “My grandmother told me that when someone yells duck, you duck” seems the appropriate way to end this novel. The men kept each other safe, defeated the enemies that were trying to kill both of them and they triumphed despite the odds against them because they had each other’s back. Given that Davis writes about this in a way that any man can relate to without any heavy handedness and with a prose that anyone can understand without catering to the lowest common denominator, this is a book that rates high on my must read list. But if he writes a sequel, I’ll be first in line to read it.
This book is a genre buster. If you like sci-fi you’ll like it. If you like post apocalyptic fiction, you’ll like it. It’s like nothing I’ve read before and I can’t recommend it enough.
You can buy it here.