Review – Nod by Adrian Barnes

Posted: April 27, 2016 in Horror, Post apocalypse
Tags: , , , ,


Recently, I decided to look around for some horror-esque stories to read and a quick look in the book pile revealed Nod by Adrian Barnes. The back cover blurb sounded promising but it didn’t prepare me for the psychologically terrifying concept nor for the wonderful prose this novel offers.

Nod, much like the rest of the book, is woven with double meanings. Not only is it about sleep and the lack of, it also implies the same place that Cain was sent after being exiled from Adam’s garden in the bible. It’s about the layered meanings of words, sometimes polar opposites; about how words shape reality, and about how quickly meaning and structure, that which anchors are existence in the real, disintegrates so quickly once the thread of language begins to unravel.

I’ve heard Nod referred to as ‘creepy’ but it’s so much more than that. The idea is that one morning the world awakes to find that nearly everyone hasn’t slept whilst those few that did shared a collective dream. This isn’t the insomnia of snatched naps; it’s is the complete lack of sleep – the inability to reboot the brain and flush out all the madness of the day. Soon, the sleepless begin to panic, knowing that within a mere week they will descend into an inescapable psychosis.

It is a descent perfectly portrayed by the author and it is here that the horror sets in. Paul, the protagonist and author behind the journal we are reading, is forced to witness his long term girlfriend’s inevitable end – from the first few days of frustration, panic and resignation into bitterness, hate and finally insanity. It’s a terrifying thing having to watch as your loved one begins to lose themselves bit by bit, day by day as memory and personality and emotion and being are relentlessly stripped away whilst you remain relatively unscathed.

Yet are you? As the world around Paul sinks into a fog of lunacy and dementia, he is equally cast adrift from reality. It is here that the author, Adrian Barnes, considers some very powerful ideas about human nature, social structures and the idea of self. Because Paul is an etymologist, the journal is full of wonderful prose and insightful examinations of words and meanings, imbuing the novel with such frightening realisations.

It’s a personal apocalypse, played out on a small stage ( as I suppose all apocalyptic events are). But, it is the terror of losing all that anchors us to the world; of being witness to the mental and physical decay that is so powerfully written by Barnes. Inevitably though, as the mania abounds, Paul is caught up in a number of people’s psychotic games as he tries to hold on to what was. It is here, in the small details, that the hardest punches are thrown; it is here that Nod struck me so harshly for both it’s beautiful language and for it’s dreadful depictions.

Nod is a fantastic novel (I actually swore out loud in shock and respect as I finished it). It’s a must read for anyone interested in psychological horror, speculative writing, post-apocalypse fiction or just brilliant writing.

Review copy
Published by Titan Books

  1. […] reading Nod by Adrian Barnes, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more quality horror, and Dead […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s