First published back in September of 1996, British author David Moody’s debut novel ‘Straight To You’ commenced his writing career with a powerfully emotive post-apocalyptic storyline which is a theme that would later become a mainstay in the majority of his proceeding work.
On Tuesday the twenty-second of October, at precisely quarter-past-one in the morning, the sun began to die. And with the gradual death of our planet’s sun, so all life on Earth started to feel catastrophic repercussions within a matter of days. It was now the beginning of the end.
But for twenty-six-year-old office manager Steven Johnson, as indeed with the rest of the human population, life carried on at pretty much the same pace, oblivious to the slow-motion-apocalypse that was creeping up on them.
Whilst the temperatures around him continued to soar upwards, Steven carried on with day-to-day life as if nothing was out of place with the world. He receives a telephone call from his mother informing him that his father isn’t well. The constant uncharacteristic October heat has not been proving good for him. Concerned for his father, Steven promises to drop by soon to see them.
And then, from out of the blue, an appointment has been set up for him to provide a Miss Samantha Hill with some financial advice; possibly with the hope of the firm he works for offering some financial aid in the set up. With Samantha being the niece of one if Steven’s wealthiest clients – Mr Ronald Stanley – Steven is sure that they will be able to help her out.
However, upon their first meeting, Steven finds that he is instantly drawn to the young woman. Talk is initially around the sandwich shop that Samantha is hoping to set up. But as the meeting continues, so conversation begins to veer off track. The signs of attraction from either side are glaringly obvious.
As the week draws to an end and Steven is on his way home from work he spots Samantha weighed down with shopping bags, and decides to offer her a lift. Leading on from that small gesture, Steven is introduced to Samantha’s mother and a relationship outside of the professional constraints of his job beings to blossom. A relationship that quickly gathers speed and momentum with each meeting.
Meanwhile, experts on the television put the extraordinary temperatures of the last three weeks down to a huge wave of energy issued from the sun. Papers start to report what would happen if temperatures continued to rise at the same rate; printing worrying messages of reaching life-threatening levels before long. Indeed, across the globe it is reported that people have already started dying due to the constant and oppressive levels of heat.
With the temperature still rising, and the news becoming increasingly worrying, Steve’s family decide to go up to Scotland to stay with his uncle George. With so much on at the moment, Steven stays back, promising to follow shortly. However, it’s not just Steven’s family that want to congregate during this worrying time. Samantha’s parents decide to go up to northwest coast, to a little village called Colliwell, where they plan to look after her grandmother who’s been suffering from the heat.
Steven promises his new love that he will follow her as soon as he can tie up a few loose ends at work. But he never envisioned the journey up to be so gruelling. With the panic-stricken nation clogging up the roads as life teeters on the very brink of annihilation, Steven embarks upon a journey that will push his determination in reaching his destination to the absolute limits.
And as the temperatures continue to soar with no sign of stopping, time is quickly running out for Steven to reach his new love before it’s all too late…
Interestingly, Moody’s inspiration for the novel came from the lyrics of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ song of the same name – ‘Straight To You’. A song that captures a particularly vivid mood. And likewise, Moody’s debut novel is certainly an emotionally intense one. Although somewhat simplistic in its overall plot, the gradual escalation of the apocalyptic threat and the movement from realisation to acceptance of the world’s utter annihilation is quite simply breathtaking.
The plot is basically a heart-wrenching love story woven around a dramatic apocalyptic backdrop that is destined for utter tragedy from the very outset. Admittedly the pacing sets off at a cautiously slow rate, investing time in the characterisation and initial stages of Steven and Samantha’s blossoming relationship. But this level of importance placed upon the development of these two principal characters is absolutely vital for the success of the tale as a whole. And in putting so much care into the building-blocks of these characters, Moody has created a monumentally engaging story that draws the reader into the characters, creating sympathises and strong bonds that magnify the impact of the events that are gradually unfolding.
With the first quarter of the novel dedicated to building upon the characterisation, it’s a while before the drama of the rising temperatures really comes into play. And it’s at this exact point, when it all starts to come crashing down on Steven, that he realises he’s alone and needs to get going if he’s to reach Samantha.
What follows is a purely heart-in-mouth journey, ripping out the raw nerves of the reader and exposing them to the burning heat of the escalating tension. There’s suddenly an all-too-real time limit. And it’s approaching fast. There’s no escape, and nothing left but to get to those you love before the world burns up. And what follows is one hell of a gruelling journey there.
It’s impossible not to feel emotional connected to Steven and his desperate plight. From the time and energy Moody initially placed into fleshing out the characters in the early stages of the novel, the rewards come back in absolute abundance, with a powerful emotional investment locking the reader into an escalating drama that feels so utterly real and passionately intense.
The sheer determination of Steven as he uses the last of his days to reach a girl he’s also only known for a matter of days is nothing short of awe-inspiring. And as the final hours of life on the planet come closer and closer to their ultimate end, so the novel reaches outwards for one of the most emotionally intense finales to be put to paper. And my god is it hard not to shed a tear during the heart-wrenching drama of it all.
Moody’s style and general ability with writing has clearly come a long way since penning this first novel. However, that’s not to say that ‘Straight To You’ isn’t well written. But there are at the same time patches that feel perhaps a touch overstated, and dialogue can become just a little too clogged up within itself. But Moody has nevertheless managed to pull off a powerfully emotional and unbelievably engaging love story that gets the reader by throat and squeezes the last dying juices out of them.
The novel runs for a total of 237 pages.
© DLS Reviews