THE MAN WHO WATCHED THE WORLD END
One man’s thoughts as remains in his home secluded from the rest of the world except for his brother. Living in a healthy body but not able to express his thoughts, run, laugh, move or ever speak one man would become his caregiver and the other his only hope for survival. Two men each caught up in their own private thoughts, world and waiting for their lives to end. One remembering the world before it all comes to a close and the other just sitting in his chair never really knowing that life passed him by. An earthquake, nuclear war or even a tornado does not mark the end of the world so destructive that it left nothing in its wake. People live longer but the younger generation that is described within the diary or journal of this main character as he nears death, is simply what is left of the only two humans within this community that are still alive. The other inhabitants of the place called Camelot are gone and one old man and his wheelchair bond brother are forced to live in a house that they can no longer leave. Outside within the confines of the forest that faces the outer rim of his house or almost like a private gate of trees that surrounds the perimeter of his old home, animals such as dogs, cats, bears and wolves have staked their territory leaving these two battle worn old men to survive within the walls of what is left of their home. Just trying to empty the garbage can be dangerous is the old man encounters a bear or a wolf hungry for flesh. The last humans or neighbors left two weeks before and the population has vanished due to a strange syndrome that attacked newborn children. Each child born to families when this man was only seven, suffered from a serious brain disease which caused each child to just remain stationary and not able to move, talk, eat, respond or react. They called them Blocks. A large piece of hard or solid material like a rock, stone or wood with a flat surface on each side is the definition of a block. Blocks have no movement that is hard, they are not pliable. Imagine your brain. Imagine the confines of your brain as solid rock. Rocks or blocks cannot react to anything neither can his brother or hundreds of other children born during this time. The result is that populations dwindled, hospitals closed, doctors could not find the cure although they knew the cause and many parents placed these children in homes and some even, hoping for a normal child, had more.
As we learn more about this man and his brother Andrew, we learn about his true feelings about his brother when he was younger, his parent’s reasons for keeping him at home, having him experiencing life like he did and the final outcome that teaches readers, let’s hope young adults and teens the importance of family, love, devotion and what really matters in life. With few material things, his family flourished. As this older man relates to readers the world through his eyes, the conditions he is forced to deal with and his lonely existence, we hear and understand that although Andrew cannot respond and understands nothing, he is the one person that never failed him, left him and his only source of company and reason to live.
Imagine what would happen if the government took action to create a Survival Bill making certain jobs obsolete but giving the remaining population the tools and implements needed to survive for long periods of time. Imagine your home with a built in incinerator, generator, enough food for forever and a food processor that has settings to create whatever you want. Imagine being so self -sufficient that engineers, teachers, electricians were no longer needed and their skills were put to use in any places. Imagine so many people just living their lives hunkered down either in homes that they could not leave because the animals took over their communities or having to live in a bomb shelter in order to stay alive. What would happen if you thought you were the only person left? How does this man manage to survive and stay sane? The Man Who Watched the World End: Just how, why and the end result remains to be seen as the author describes in vivid terms the outer rim of his home, the dilapidated and rundown conditions that can never be repaired, the leaks that come from the roof and the hope that no animal will find its way in to invade him privacy and his life. Imagine living alone, being responsible for another person who is helpless, yet still in every other sense of the word alone. Would you want to survive? Would you want your existence to be limited to reading, watching old movies and writing a daily journal to chronicle how it all went down? What would happen when someone finds it? Will they understand?
Listening to the voice of this 82-year old man we learn more about his true feelings about his younger brother, the responsibility he had to undertake after his parents passed away, the limitations placed on his life and the hope that someday his brother would talk, move or maybe just once there would be a miracle. The story might be able the world fading away and the fact that he has no idea if anyone else is alive or where they might be but it is about family, responsibility, loyalty, love and faith.
Remembering the past and then flashing to the present the author presents two worlds in which this man lived: one filled with hope, with family, with friends and love. The second: despair, endless quiet, snakes, bugs, vermin, infections, lack of communication with the outside world although his computer provided him so knowledge of where others might be living but that could change so fast at times he did not even bother to find out. Would he leave Camelot? Camelot: A place when pictured within your mind would be associated with glittering romance, optimism, and great happiness. The opposite of which would be a fool’s paradise or a dystopia. Imagine living in a beautiful home, the outside is filled with greenery, the air is fresh, the scene is colorful and the flowers create a perfume scent within your garden. Imagine the smell of rotting leaves, dead animals, weeds, moldy air, musty odors and brown everywhere. Close your eyes: Which world would you want to live in? Think about where this man is and wonder: why did he stay? Living in a house where everything was burned out, enslaved on your own because the outside world is too dangerous, the smell of fire is everywhere. De-evolution is what he calls it. Nothing changes, no hope for the future, nothing will grow, the world will just disappear as it had for many years when the Blocks were the only children born and the need for more services gone and the world you might say turning from colors to grey and then black. But, lighting a fire outside what his therapy you might say hoping that someone would see it and find him or her. The cruelty of some people and their treatment of those that are helpless are no different in some respects as today. When someone is different and people do not understand or want to take responsibility for someone who is disabled or needs care often the alternative is what you will learn when you read what some people did to so many Blocks and the end result for others.
Could you survive in a world filled with decay, wild animals, no source of company and knowing that the rest of your community or others lacked someone like Andrew had that showed some type of compassion and understanding. Even the prisons were abandoned, the prisoners provided with whatever they needed to become self-sufficient on their own. Some even escaped and infiltrated the general population. As you learn what happens to the two Block Sisters that lived next door you wonder what has become of the human race. Was it a touch of humanity, cruelty or indifference that caused people to end the lives of others that could not defend themselves in such a gruesome way? So, why does this man feel guilty? Why does he feel it’s his job to give so many just a drop of dignity?
As the ending of his journal and writings come to a close you begin to realize that some of his thoughts might be realities that he created in order stay sane. Inventing friends, situations, to protecting Andrew and sharing his every thought this book gives readers much pause for thought. What would happen if this were your reality? What would happen if you had to care for someone like Andrew?
An ending quite powerful and the final outcome you have to decide for yourself. What would happen if you watched the world coming to an end? Read the diary shared by our narrator and realize that this is a true wakeup call to everyone. Luxuries are great, food, water, shelter is necessities but family loyalty, and the bonds we have with those we love are memories that will never fade. Camelot: Not the most precious place for these two to live out their lives but it them it was everything. One story told by our 82 year old narrator that will keep you glued to the printed page hoping and praying for a miracle. What happens you decide? Was he right to remain while others left? One powerful novel with many unanswered questions.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer