How to read and treat a book that is *now* a standalone but was originally written to be a sequel to a book that today no longer exists? As it turned out, more complicated than I anticipated.
´Fight For The Night´ has history and a rather unusual one, which needs some explaining, and as it is it irked me to the point, at about 45%, that I finally after a week of on/off reading threw in the towel and called it a day.
´Fight For The Night´, as the author explained on a blog post, was supposed to be Book 2.0 for ´Texocalypse Now´, co-written by Michael Bunker and Nick Cole, in the Apocalypse Weird metaverse. As per November the publisher folded and rights were reverted - to the best of my knowledge - alas Bunker/Cole decided not to re-publish ´Texocalypse Now´, at least for now. Now Statham had a book on his hands, a sequel in an abandoned franchise/metaverse, not only that, but a sequel to a book that no longer exists. Which is IMO worth repeating here, so...
As far as I can tell from Steve Statham´s blog post he rewrote the book and got rid off of most aspects that made AW unique in storyline and characters. Even obviously he couldn´t delete/rewrite everything as how the basics of the novel were set up, iE a mysterious fog that acts as a door to another world where a tribe of Nermernuh (Comanche might be a more familiar name for them) from the past come into a dystopian Texas, which was wrecked by zombies and some more sinister forces, of the here and now.
Then there is Mr. Sluagh, who clearly is just an alternate version of the original Mayhem, who already had a predecessor in Randall Flagg. An outerworldish demoniac supervillan, but what made one particular chapter "outstanding" in a negative way was an eerie similarity to one in the now defunct Tex Now book. If I should be expected to read the book now for what it is, devoid of any context or it being a "sequel" (see where it gets complicated?), the aspect of being too close to home is not something I could take my mind off.
So what is really the problem? The book is still bizarre in this typical AW sorta way, it has appealing characters (lead by The Marshall, who also was a secondary character in Tex Now, even now rewritten), a demoniac character in a post-apocalyptic setting, some oddball, outerwordly creatures, a storyline that is one in line as I expected and the aesthetic being consistent with what I knew from Apocalypse Weird. It sure did everything to earn a place next to other Dystopian/Post-Apocalypse novels of the same kinship.
The real problem is that I couldn´t shake the feeling that everything has been done already but I am not one to believe that art itself, be it books, music or anything, really, creates itself in a void. Coz that would imply that any artist, writer, musician create their art without any influence at all from past and present, and that clearly isn´t working as no one lives in a bubble. Especially not with a book with such a history as ´Fight For The Night´.
Which leads back to the question how to read the book properly, if there is such a thing? Deny and pretend and basically "forget" that the book has a "prequel", which I loved the shit out of it, but which right now is in a vacuum of non-existing, and was written by two different authors? I have no clue, and the more I tried the best to dig my way into the book I was getting lost without being able to forget that I read *now* a book that in theory stands on it´s own. It didn´t work. And the more I read the more I dreaded the characters, the storyline and was more and more aware of what I *didn´t* like than those bits and pieces I enjoyed. I did try my best to accept it for what it is, but by now doing so would have meant investing a great deal more of time and possibly imagination that I was willing to give.
It is not a bad book by any means, but for me it was too much, as I was very invested in the AW world, and especially attached to Texocalypse Now. I suspect not having read Tex Now might surely have made a difference. ´Fight For The Night´ would have - maybe? - felt fresh and exciting, now everything was stale. And that was simply not enough to continue and find out if eventually I´d change my mind. I guess I´m just done.
(Full disclosure: I received a free ARC of ´Fight For The Night´ from the author, Steve Statham)