Getting Back Book Review (SPOO00OOKY READS)
Getting Back, written in 2000 by author William Dietrich, paints an interesting and terrifying portrait of a futuristic world that seems closer than ever while reading in 2018.
While the year is never specified in the story, you know it’s sometime after 2023. One big corporation owns the entire world and there is finally peace. No war, no poverty, no illness. You are born, you go to school, you get a job, you marry and you retire. All the jobs are through the United Corporation where you slowly make your way up the pyramid. Which is a literal pyramid shaped office that they work inside. You don’t have to worry any more – no anxiety needed. Food is created through science and everything is controlled.
In Cubicle 17, David Dyson works away. He considers himself a free thinker and is completely underwhelmed by this life he has to live now. He can’t even escape on a wilderness vacation because everything in the world has been mapped and tagged. There’s nowhere to get lost anymore. He’s bored, he’s listless and spends his early mornings jogging around the outskirts of the city hoping to feel something.
One morning he encounters a beautiful interesting woman named Raven who he promptly stalks and asks out on a date. David is not very tactful and is a bit of an idiot. Raven agrees and asks him to meet her that night where they will go on an “adventure.”
She takes him into the subway tunnels which are off limits and the two talk about what it’s like to not want to be in this perfect society. Raven tells David that she’s been speaking to a very secret company called Outback Adventure.
In the future, Australia has become quarantined. A disease was released accidentally into Australia years back and it killed off most of the livestock and the humans. United Corp closed off Australia and deleted all information about it so the world would forget. Outback Adventure promises that Australia is free of contagion and is now a new completely untouched landscape. Somewhere you can truly experience the sense of wonder and freedom. Somewhere you can finally get lost.
David is hesitant at first and approaches Outback Adventure purely because he’s more interested in Raven, who’s already signed up. Outback accepts him and along with three others, David is dropped into the middle of Australia with no idea where he is or where to go. All he knows is that the group is tasked to head East where Outback will pick them up at the end of their adventure.
So, while Getting Back isn’t a horror novel per say, it’s more of a sci-fi apocalyptic novel, it has horror elements which is why I’m talking about it here. I picked this book up for a quarter at a library book sale with no idea what it was or knowing anything about it and I ended up loving every moment of it.
The world is so completely fleshed out and feels terrifying realistic for what’s going on in the world right now. I could easily see all this happening in 10 years. I don’t want to speak too much about the actual plot details of the book because I had so much fun reading it and discovering all the twists and turns.
There’s a pretty horrifying group of thugs that come into the story at some point and it feels very Mad Max like. The elements of Australia play a huge horror role as the group battle with sand storms and flash floods and the suffocating heat. There’s also the risk of starvation, injury, and the overwhelming feeling that something’s not quite right.
I love epic adventure stories like this, especially with horror type elements. It’s so easy to lose yourself completely in the story. David starts off as a sort of annoying main lead who eventually grows up into a great leader that you root for. Raven remains this fascinating mysterious character throughout who you hate and love at the same time. The other characters they encounter are all so wonderfully created and believable. The main four who go on this journey become fully fleshed out interesting characters and you travel along with their growth as it happens.
Dietrich crafts a great and terrifying world that I highly recommend jumping into. He also sounds super bad ass – he was a career journalist who won a Pulitzer for reporting on the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He advised Planet Magazine, and has travelled from the South Pole to the Arctic including visiting base camp at Mount Everest. He’s written a lot of books and I will be curious to jump into some more, especially Dark Winter which is set in the South Pole.