Monday, October 28, 2013

Solomon the Peacemaker by Hunter Welles




Spoiler-free Summary:
At the end of the 22nd century we find Vincent, held by some strange captor(s?) for a reason we do not yet know, explaining in sessions, his slow decline into the cultish underbelly of future-Boston. As he tells his story, it quickly becomes clear that the future is a complex place. It is internationally tranquil thanks to the supercomputer Peacemaker that maintains world peace through interacting with a human Host. Despite this A.I.-established world peace, tensions are unfurling on the interpersonal level; there are those who despise the Peacemaker and the autonomy it represents and others who worship the Peacemaker and the human Host it feeds on. Preacher, the charismatic and flawed cult leader who despises the Peacemaker completely, takes Vincent and his girlfriend Yael under his wing, forcing them to reconsider what it means to be peaceful – what is the price of peace? Yael, unable to reconcile her place in this new paradoxical world takes her own life, and it is around her that Vincent centers his tale. Both beautiful and horrifying, Solomon the Peacemaker is an unforgettable tale of a dystopian love.

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Solomon the Peacemaker is the debut novel from Hunter Welles. It also happens to be the first novel published by Cowcatcher Press (please note the funky website – I like it). So, upon picking up this novel, I felt as if I was heading into some great unknown, and, interestingly enough, that’s how I remained to feel after reading the first few “Sessions” (this novel is parsed into Sessions with our main character Vincent rather than Chapters).


Being thrown headfirst into this future world filled with its own lingo, mannerisms, and political ideology was disorienting. On top of being introduced to this new future, we are further confused by not knowing why the hell we are in a “session” with Vincent and who is Vincent and why is Vincent here and – okay, calm down. Not even a quarter way through the novel I began to feel confident in my understanding of Vincent’s world. Welles does an excellent job of detangling the tale. So, if you are initially put off by the confusion, stick with it. I promise it gets better and you will appreciate the confusion later – it makes it scarier.


This novel is ambitious. We are talking about world policies here, religion, technology as a whole. Welles doesn’t back down. Despite these giant, soaring topics, Welles is able to reel us in – to show us the small details amidst the bigger ones. Within the revelations on religion and politics, we find breathtaking descriptions of a couple in love – of a couple in turmoil – of the nuances and mannerisms of individuals. This is a novel about the future of the world, but it predominantly felt  like the story of a tragic romance, which worked wonderfully. 

Solomon the Peacemaker was one of the most devastating, beautiful things I've read all year. It is a masterful debut novel. I absolutely loved it.

Buy this book January 14, 2014 from Cowcatcher Press, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. 

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