"Nomad" Book Review
Written by R.J. MacReady
Published by Amaon Digital Services
Written By Jamie Nash
2019, 198 pages, Fiction
Released on July 9th, 2019
Nomad is a sci-fi/horror/action novel from Jamie Nash, a screenwriter responsible for multiple horror movies (The Night Watchmen, Exists, Lovely Molly) as well as some television Christmas movies. This novel was adapted from a screenplay he created years ago that was never made into a feature film.
The book begins with a fairly classic premise that goes way back – at least as far as the Twilight Zone episode, "Five Characters In Search of An Exit", but appears in countless other tales. A girl wakes up with no memory of how she got there, no idea where "there" is, and no idea who she even is. In fact, she's drowning from the second she awakens, and is saved by a stranger that she dubs "Hero" for that obvious reason.
To go into much more detail invites major spoilers, so I'll just say that the rest of the book follows this girl – who calls herself Dorothy for no particular reason – trying to figure out what's going on while staying alive as something seeks to kill her and her newfound friends.
There's good and not-so-good to be found here. I'll go into the good first, which outweighs the bad by a big margin. First off, this book moves like a bullet. I think your average millenial with ADHD would have a hard time getting bored with Nomad. I mean, there are no chapters in this 200-page novel.
Think about that. Chapter breaks are not only breaks in the text, but places where your brain says, "Hey, I can stop here and pick it up at the next chapter whenever I'm ready." You don't have that here. I'm not sure if it was a conscious decision to not give the reader any breathing space, or simply Nash's preference given that screenplays don't have chapters, but it works. This thing cooks with gas.
Now, a premise like this is only as good as the resolution of the mystery, and the denouement on this one works pretty well. Not perfect, mind you, but it's definitely satisfying.
Now for the things that don't work. Number one is the rampant use of pop culture references. In the first thirty pages, you're pummeled with countless references to things like Carvel's Cookiepuss, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gumby, the video game Asteroids, Commodore 64, and more. It's like Ready Player One, but with that book the pop culture is part-and-parcel to the plot. In this, it sticks out, especially so since this girl can't remember anything about her past other than the pop culture references. There's never really an explanation for why she can remember with precision the name of all these things, but absolutely nothing about herself.
The only other thing that bothers me slightly is that it all seems so familiar as a plot. In this day and age it's hard to be 100% original, so there's always slack to be given, but it's still something that hovered at the back of my mind as I read. Plotwise, Nomad has pieces of Virus, Alien, The Thing, and especially the movie Pandorum.
In Nash's defense, he said in an interview that he wrote this screenplay many years ago and a lot of movies since have had similar conceits. (I would guess Pandorum from 2009 is probably the big one.)
However, I'd still recommend Nomad if you like your books to be immersive page-turners. Nomad would be perfect for a beach read or if you've got a flight to be on and you don't want to be bored. Just be aware that parts are intense and gory, so go in forewarned.
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