A new Greg F. Gifune is always something to look forward to and the fact that “Babylon Terminal” is due in March gives Gifune’s fans something to look forward to reading. I had an advance review copy so I was lucky enough to not have to wait for the release date before cracking open one of my most anticipated books of the year.
Monk had never questioned his job before. He is a dreamcatcher who lived to track those who would run away from society to try and set off on a path of their own. Order is paramount for the survival of society and Monk was one of the best dreamcatchers in the government’s employ. He approached his job with little emotion and strove to bring the runners to swift justice with no emotion. He never questioned the order of society. Then his wife, Julia, went missing and is believed to be a runner and everything changed forever.
Now in pursuit of Julia, everything that Monk once accepted as truth is called into question and he is forced to look at the world and everyone he knows in a new light. That includes himself and he soon learns that he is not the person that he thought he was. As he continues to track Julia down, Monk is not sure if he is trying to save her, join her, or just to end it all.
Trying to summarize “Babylon Terminal” is extremely difficult and trying to explain it is near impossible. This is definitely not a book for those who enjoy traditional narratives as there is very little in this book that can be expected from one page to the next. In fact, it is difficult to determine what is real and what is just in Monk’s head as even he sees the world he is in as unclear and surreal. Monk’s search for Julia happens in the real world but it is so intermingled with Monk’s internal journey for understanding that the actions and thoughts become one and merge into a kind of shared consciousness between Monk and the reader. Is the action really happening or is this just a shared thought or dream? Gifune keeps the reader on edge throughout the story so that the story is at once compelling and unsettling simultaneously.
In “Babylon Terminal,” Greg F. Gifune gives the reader a unique vision that is his clearly his own work but which can also be individually interpreted to create a personal reading experience. It is difficult to summarize the book because the narrative is ambiguous enough to allow every reader to bring individual perspectives to the story. The story can at once be seen as a quest for redemption or a slow descent into despair. Gifune’s mastery is on display throughout the novel as the story is both beautiful and unsettling at the same time. I have read other reviews that try to compare the novel to other works and these comparisons fall short. In my mind, “Babylon Terminal” is almost a reinterpretation of Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” as Monk tries to navigate a hellish landscape in the hope that he will find something better on the other side. The world he lives in is a type of inferno with the ocean representing purgatory with the promise of paradise on its far shore. This, however, is only my personal interpretation of a tale left wide open to interpretation by a master storyteller who hold a tight rein on the chaos he has created. “Babylon Terminal” is just another step forward for Gifune and a strong testament to just how talented he is. The story kept me guessing throughout and made it difficult to put the book aside even for a moment. “Babylon Terminal” is sure to be among the best books of the year when all is said and done.
I would like to thank DarkFuse and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Babylon Terminal” is scheduled to be released in March.