Dayfall: Did Not Finish (couldn’t get past the writing)

Dayfall by Michael David Ares science fiction book reviewsDayfall by Michael David AresDayfall by Michael David Ares

Dayfall (2018) is set in a near-future after a short nuclear war between India and Pakistan created a partial nuclear winter, casting part of the world, including New York City, into perpetual darkness. Crime has risen and Jon Phillips, a PA cop who takes own a serial killer early in the book is sent to deal with another one in the city known as the Dayfall Killer. Complicating things is the immanent return of the sun (the titular “dayfall”) and predictions of chaos and panic (think Asimov and Silverberg’s Nightfall, but reversed).

As usual with my DNFs (Did Not Finish), I’ll be brief as I don’t like to tear down someone’s hard work more than what is needed to explain why I didn’t finish the book. My biggest issue, and what I eventually couldn’t power through, was the writing itself. Exposition and dialogue were clunky, the book bogged down with travelogue details of NYC spots, and the prose was flat and often repetitive. Too often we get a description of buildings, or recent history (or not so recent history) or information about characters with the phrase, “he’d read… ”. Worldbuilding was thin and the premise just didn’t hold my interest. To be fair, as always with a DNF, it’s possible the writing improved and the plot grew more compelling as the book went on. My problems with the writing, though, began within the first few pages and nothing that came afterward gave me any hope things would get better. It was a constant struggle to keep going. In the end, I gave up at a 100 pages, which felt more than fair for a sub-300-page book. Not recommended.

Published March 13, 2018. FEAR THE DAY. In the near future, patches of the northern hemisphere have been shrouded in years of darkness from a nuclear winter, and the water level has risen in the North Atlantic. The island of Manhattan has lost its outer edges to flooding and is now ringed by a large seawall. The darkness and isolation have allowed crime and sin to thrive in the never-ending shadows of the once great city, and when the sun finally begins to reappear, everything gets worse. A serial killer cuts a bloody swath across the city during the initial periods of daylight, and a violent panic sweeps through crowds on the streets. The Manhattan police, riddled with corruption and apathy, are at a loss. That’s when the Mayor recruits Jon Phillips, a small-town Pennsylvania cop who had just single-handedly stopped a high-profile serial killer in his own area, and flies him into the insanity of this new New York City. The young detective is partnered with a shady older cop and begins to investigate the crimes amidst the vagaries of a twenty-four hour nightlife he has never experienced before. Soon realizing that he was chosen for reasons other than what he was told, Jon is left with no one to trust and forced to go on the run in the dark streets, and below them in the maze of the underground. Against all odds he still hopes that he can save his own life, the woman of his dreams, and maybe even the whole city before the arrival of the mysterious and dreaded event that has come to be known as…. DAYFALL.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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3 comments

  1. Your plot recap made me want to go re read THE LAST POLICEMAN by Ben H. Winters.

    • a far better use of your time. Speaking of which, I just watched Hard Sun, a show about a policeman working in a time when Earth faces and extinction level event that apparently is somehow not based on The Last Policeman (or at least, nothing in the credits . . . ). It was not what I expected (though not bad)

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