Book Review: Culmination by Holly Smith

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The apocalypse is a rather popular subject when it comes to books and movies. The important thing is to offer a perspective with a tint of freshness to it. Culmination uses this theme as a backdrop to highlight human condition and how people could react in the most difficult of situations.

While a young couple is enjoying the first moments together as newlyweds, their honeymoon drastically changes due to a total electrical blackout, which they will soon learn was a global phenomenon. But at least they are not alone, as they find more people with whom they soon become close friends. As it turns out, two of their new acquaintances are survivalists who have long prepared for the dawn of civilization. So, the group moves into a high-end cave, equipped with anything they need to survive in luxury. However, even if things should have ran smoothly, since everything was anticipated, it seems that one element was gravely overlooked, human nature, and the cost of this oversight is to be discovered in the pages of the book. Actually, Holly Smith offers a good example of a self fulfilling prophecy, if you believe that something will happen strong enough, you will mold your perception of reality in such a way as to see it realized.

Culmination is a good addition to the ever-growing literature on the apocalypse, the focus on human nature and the manner in which it is dissected reflects on Holly Smith’s formation as a psychologist. Still, I would not recommend this read for all ages, since there is some graphic content throughout the novel; young adults however, should find it quite interesting. The readers are confronted with some rather controversial themes which can lead to some heated debates. It actually encourages you to an imagination exercise and consider your alternatives and actions in such a situation. Furthermore, some of the characters are a bit one dimensional; they seem a bit too focused on a single aspect, like cooking. Also they tend to overlap. This is mostly observable in their similar speech patterns. As far as the plot goes, although at times the action is predictable, there are some mesmerizing twists which compensate for this aspect. All in all, the most striking aspect is the author’s ability to manipulate the perspective of the reader. Holly Smith’s Culmination is above all, about the resilience of civilization and the vulnerability of humanity.

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