by Robert Repino
Soho Press (Jan.2015) Hardcover, 368 pages
“I’ve seen this evil up close. I’ve seen what a human can do when he is cornered and praying to his God for deliverance. There is nothing more dangerous. Nothing more cruel. More Animal“
Have you ever wondered what your cat was thinking as it stared you down while it meticulously cleaned itself? Does the look in your dog’s eyes ever give you the creeps? Perhaps they are plotting your downfall, or maybe deciding on the best way to dispose of your body once the animals have taken over. Not since George Orwell’s Animal Farm have I read a more provocative book where the animals stood up to their human “oppressors”. Robert Repino has written a story that capitalizes on the ideas that Orwell, Art Spiegelman”s Maus, as well as Richard Adams’ Watership Down have introduced concerning anthropomorphic animal tales. That is not to say that it isn’t unique, because Mort(e) takes the idea of the animal world’s ascension to the next level.
Robert Repino has crafted a world where ants the size of buses have been plotting for millennia to overthrow the humans, by learning their languages and customs, as well as having their Ant scientists devise weapons that would aid in this well thought-out plot. The Queen Ant, Hymenoptera Unus, after thousands of years in her lair, has unleashed an Ant-made hormone, that when delivered via the water supply, enabled mammals, amphibians and birds to grow exponentially, with the ability to stand upright and to speak and understand the language of their masters. Once the “pets” have become “people”, they turn on their masters and take up arms Alongside the ant Kingdom, where the world’s animals fight a brutal war in an attempt to eradicate humans from the face of the earth.
The main character Mort(e), whose slave name was Sebastian, is the narrator, and the engine from which the investigation of morality, religion, slavery and war are viewed. This story is deep on many levels, touching on psychology, philosophy and religion, while focusing on the animal’s realization that they have become what they hated most-Human. This is a well written and riveting story that any fan of sci-fi/fantasy will devour.While the story features talking animals, this is not a children’s story; the graphic nature of the descriptions of war and carnage are most assuredly not written for pre-teen readers. Highly recommended for fans of George Orwell, Richard Adams and Vishnu Sarma’s Panchatantra (Fables of Bidpai).
(5 out of 5)