The Lightest Object in the Universe

The Lightest Object in the Universe

If the grid went down, how would you find someone on the other side of the country? How would you find hope? After a global economic collapse and failure of the electrical grid, amid escalating chaos, Carson, a high school teacher of history who sees history bearing out its lessons all around him, heads west on foot toward Beatrix, a woman he met and fell hard for during a...

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Title:The Lightest Object in the Universe
Author:Kimi Eisele
Rating:

The Lightest Object in the Universe Reviews

  • Karen’s Library

    I'm not crying... YOU'RE crying! Ok... Maybe I'm crying just a little.

    I'm a huge fan of apocalyptic stories. There aren't many out there that are actually kind of hopeful. But folks, this one is just that! Very hopeful! Most of the book is about how the goodness of people come through rather than the dregs of society taking over.

    The Lightest Object in the Universe is the story of Carson on the east coast, and Beatrix on the west coast. Shortly after a soft apocalypse caused by a flu, Carson

    I'm not crying... YOU'RE crying! Ok... Maybe I'm crying just a little.

    I'm a huge fan of apocalyptic stories. There aren't many out there that are actually kind of hopeful. But folks, this one is just that! Very hopeful! Most of the book is about how the goodness of people come through rather than the dregs of society taking over.

    The Lightest Object in the Universe is the story of Carson on the east coast, and Beatrix on the west coast. Shortly after a soft apocalypse caused by a flu, Carson heads out on a journey from coast to coast to reunite with Beatrix, whom he loves.

    While Carson travels, Beatrix helps form a new community as the survivors begin anew in the world that's left.

    This is a love story and I couldn't get enough. This is the kind of world I hope to find if there ever is some kind of worldwide disaster.

    *Thank you so much to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the advance copy!*

  • Chris

    Absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed this!

    My childhood neighbor and friend wrote this book and I could not be more proud of her!

    I happy bought this at our local indie bookstore and started reading immediately and had no idea what to expect. The extra best thing about this is that this is exactly the sort of book that I would have devoured even if I didn't know the author.

    The grid goes down, society collapses, and the characters we follow are trying to survive and sustain themselves post-apocalypse

    Absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed this!

    My childhood neighbor and friend wrote this book and I could not be more proud of her!

    I happy bought this at our local indie bookstore and started reading immediately and had no idea what to expect. The extra best thing about this is that this is exactly the sort of book that I would have devoured even if I didn't know the author.

    The grid goes down, society collapses, and the characters we follow are trying to survive and sustain themselves post-apocalypse style. The story focuses on two people on opposite coasts who are trying to find each other and reconnect yet without the technology that we have become so used to communicating with -- it's a difficult task and near impossible to hope that they will indeed see each other again.

    Beatrix has been an activist for years, traveling in and out of South America helping establish free-trade and worker empowerment. Carson is a History professor on the East Coast. I really enjoyed the little bits that I know of Kimi in this -- the South American and the Pennsylvania bits. (smile).

    What I also really loved was how familiar these characters felt, how easy it was to love them and feel like I know them -- both in the book and in the real world. This story could be taken right out of my life and that was all the more exciting.

    Beatrix is working with her neighborhood on a sustainable collective lifestyle. Carson meanwhile is walking across the country. Both of them are hearing Blue's radio broadcasts -- encouraging everyone to come to "The Center". His preaching ways are enticing and it sounds like a perfect solution. Yet it's hard to walk hundreds of miles and many don't make it. Like any post-apocalptic world there are marauders and bandits and you never know quite who you can trust. Fortunately this is a story of hope and has a very positive spin on humanity working together for the greater good.

    I loved it right up until the very last sentence. It held me in it's grip the whole way through. A new spin on a common theme, all the more pertinent and believable in our near future.

    Love Love Love this book!

  • Cyndi Becker

    I'm not a big reader of sci fi/ end of days stories, but I seem to love the few I've "read" via audible (books like:

    ,

    - okay so maybe the theme there is the author Karen Thompson Walker ) but I digress.

    The Lightest Object in the Universe is one I must add to this list. First, the story is completely captivating. And secondly, the audible is perfectly produced, with distinct voices from the myriad of characters who create this new society.

    I'm not a big reader of sci fi/ end of days stories, but I seem to love the few I've "read" via audible (books like:

    ,

    - okay so maybe the theme there is the author Karen Thompson Walker ) but I digress.

    The Lightest Object in the Universe is one I must add to this list. First, the story is completely captivating. And secondly, the audible is perfectly produced, with distinct voices from the myriad of characters who create this new society. This is an amazing story rooted in the characters and the situation where society has fallen, there's little to no electricity, gas, etc. - you get the picture. What's important here is human connection, the ability to persevere, to hold onto a glimmer of hope, to love.

    The story is told via multiple voices but focuses on characters on the west coast who have maintained and continue to build their community on Halcyon St. It's a dynamic group of figures; at the center is Beatrix, from the East coast, comes Carson - making his way to his friend Beatrix. And in the middle of the country - somewhere in Wyoming, is the voice of Jonathan Blue - "proclaiming his place" as a savior who can offer food and protection (drink the kool-aid type of savior).

    Over a time span of about a year, we see the evolution of humanity, the various factions interacting, a marauding group of children not afraid to use violence in order to secure food, the people of Halcyon as they try to shore up their neighborhood and offer something to combat the pull of

    the enigmatic Jonathan Blue. And the wanderers, like Carson. People forced out of their homes in big cities, in light of anarchy and resources, and who travel, looking for a better place to live.

    If you haven't read or listened to a book like this I say try it - try it WITH THIS BOOK! It has it all and in the end left me feeling highly entertained and a bit more hopeful about humanity.

  • Lissa

    Well-written and full of haunting scenes of post-apocalyptic America, I devoured this book and it grew on me the more that I read it. It follows two adult characters who had a brief romance and are now trying to connect with each other even thought they live on opposite sides of the country. I wish that there was a little more details concerning how society crumbled, but descriptions of the aftermath were some of the best I have read. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in

    Well-written and full of haunting scenes of post-apocalyptic America, I devoured this book and it grew on me the more that I read it. It follows two adult characters who had a brief romance and are now trying to connect with each other even thought they live on opposite sides of the country. I wish that there was a little more details concerning how society crumbled, but descriptions of the aftermath were some of the best I have read. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Paula Kalin

    This is a first! A dystopian novel about rebuilding rather than destruction!

    Kimi Eisele’s debut gives us a world where the government no longer exists, electricity is gone, and along with it the economy. Society has collapsed due to a flu outbreak. The heart of the story, however, is about two people in love that are on opposite sides of the country and their journey to get back together.

    Beatrix, a fair trade advocate and protester, is on the West Coast, and Carson, a history teacher, is on the

    This is a first! A dystopian novel about rebuilding rather than destruction!

    Kimi Eisele’s debut gives us a world where the government no longer exists, electricity is gone, and along with it the economy. Society has collapsed due to a flu outbreak. The heart of the story, however, is about two people in love that are on opposite sides of the country and their journey to get back together.

    Beatrix, a fair trade advocate and protester, is on the West Coast, and Carson, a history teacher, is on the East Coast. Carson decides to make the trek cross country to find Beatrix. What unfolds is a wonderful story about the resilience of the surviving human race and the start to new beginnings.

    Carson’s journey brings him in touch with all sorts of people. Some are staying put, and others are traveling elsewhere. Many have been enticed to join Jonathan Blue who has been broadcasting via radio of a new paradise for the lost. Carson, however, decides to continue walking to the West Coast. The uplifting theme, however, is about those survivors that he does meet and their goodwill. Many that he meets on the road offer food, water, shelter, and the hope Carson needs to continue his long and arduous journey.

    Meanwhile, Beatrix has decided to stay put and, with the help of others, starts to build a new community. They share knowledge and possessions, bring to life a radio broadcast of their own, and rebuild as best they can.

    THE LIGHTEST OBJECT IN THE UNIVERSE is a delightful story about coming together, hope, and starting over.

    3.5 out of 5 stars

    Many thanks to Algonquin Books and Andrew for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Scooter McDermitt

    For its first third, I found

    to be deeply frustrating. Here I am reading a novel about the end of the world - flu has wiped out a huge chunk of humanity, the government just sort-of decided to stop working, commerce has collapsed, and the electrical grid has stopped reducing iPhones and computers to useless blocks of plastic and metal - and the world stubbornly refuses to end. Where were the Nuke Pooches,

    For its first third, I found

    to be deeply frustrating. Here I am reading a novel about the end of the world - flu has wiped out a huge chunk of humanity, the government just sort-of decided to stop working, commerce has collapsed, and the electrical grid has stopped reducing iPhones and computers to useless blocks of plastic and metal - and the world stubbornly refuses to end. Where were the Nuke Pooches, the marauding cannibal, road warriors, the blood-thirsty packs of sentient AIs, and the mushroom clouds? The problem wasn't with Kimi Eisele  (who's debut novel is one those infuriating books that makes you want to congratulate the author for creating something so unique, but at the same time, leaves you completely jealous that they can come so close to perfection with their first try); the problem was me. You see, I thought I was getting a novel about the end of the world, but Kimi Eisele wrote one about the world beginning. 

    Set soon after the collapse of the world as we know it,

    tells the story of Beatrix (a Fair Trade advocate), Carson (a school principal trying to piece his life back together after the loss of his wife), his journey across the changed landscape of the United States, and her attempt to pull together a community that is threatening to fragment as water, food, and trust become increasingly rare commodities. It's a set-up rife with potential for exploring the darkest side of human psyche, but instead the author populates her novel with charcters who see the end of the world as an opportunity to build a new society where people work together to solve problems instead of looking for ways to maximize their own survival. That's not to say that there is no danger to be found in Kimi Eisle's novel - a deadly flu seems to be getting more lethal with every outbreak, a gang of bicycling terrorists teenagers angered that their generation has lost its future threaten to derail all progress, and a strange ascension cult which promises simple solutions to complex problems are constant and real threats - but these threats are overshadowed by the combined decency of the survivors who see their own pain and loss reflected in the eyes of the people they meet on the road to anywhere. 

    In the end, Kimi Eisle, dosen't see the loss of our lifestyle as an ending, but as a beginning. It's our willingness to place more importance on the invisible people that we reach through our phones than the people we see everyday in our neighborhoods that is the true end of a world worth living in, and it's the same tools that connect the world and supposedly bring us together are the things that are keeping us most apart. In

    it's the loss of everything we think is important that acts as the catalyst for giving the human race a chance to live again. 

  • Faith Hurst-Bilinski

    It’s getting harder to write dystopian novels, I think. The writing here is as beautiful but the story itself didn’t capture me the way I thought it would. The back and forth between the stories of the two main characters seemed abrupt and I never really got the sense of wanting them to find each other.

  • Mark

    Another near-future fiction with a thinly-veiled political agenda, The Lightest Object in the Universe is as crunchy a post-apocalyptic vision as they come. Although a post-collapse Bay Area where all central government control ceases to exist a matter of mere months after an oil shock doesn't hold up to scrutiny, artist and activist Eisele is not that linear a thinker. It doesn't matter a whole lot, because she has some thoughtful characters and many interesting ideas. The novel can get

    Another near-future fiction with a thinly-veiled political agenda, The Lightest Object in the Universe is as crunchy a post-apocalyptic vision as they come. Although a post-collapse Bay Area where all central government control ceases to exist a matter of mere months after an oil shock doesn't hold up to scrutiny, artist and activist Eisele is not that linear a thinker. It doesn't matter a whole lot, because she has some thoughtful characters and many interesting ideas. The novel can get damnably poetic at turns, but its chief strength is playing on reader expectations. The vision of a world with no electricity and no major threats bigger than rowdy teenage bicycle thieves (past the odd suicide cult) might be optimistic, but it's a welcome change of pace. Eisele plays with tension in a deliberate and intelligent way. As one of her protagonists learns to build chicken coops and spearhead a community radio station in San Francisco, the other makes his way across the country from the other coast on foot, meeting a variety of survivors along the way. Each of these encounters is fraught with the possibility of violence and betrayal, and yet (almost) nothing terrible ever happens. In Eisele's conception, the world's end brings out the best in people. That's probably not true, but it's OK to want it to be. The author keeps things small and gives each of her few major characters meaningful and significant backstories, and has much success making the minor characters memorable and unique. In contrast to Stephen King's portentous apocalypse in The Stand, where the literal Hand of God descends from the sky at the end, The Lightest Object is most notable for its tiny details, like the barter value of free-trade chocolate, the production of an educational old-school radio drama, or the rituals of the bike-mounted post-collapse version of the Pony Express. The tone is slightly separate from absolute documentary reality throughout, but Eisele's tentative attempts at full-blown magic and mysticism are perhaps its weakest passages. The payoff of the ominous cult subplot is rather hard to follow because the obligatory prophet character is having some sort of incoherent reverie for the whole run of it. While it's obvious where the author's sympathies lie, it's notable how she chooses to give her heroine and chief identification figure, the resourceful Beatrix, doubts and fallibility. Becoming a community leader in this brave new world isn't a complete vindication for her, since she spent most of her life before the collapse traveling all over the world while having barely any connection to her nominal home. That the author is this willing to slip honest self-examination into the narrative proves that you don't have to share her Portlandia politics in order to enjoy her work.

  • Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

    I love post apocalyptic books. I have read my fair share and unfortunately some do not stand out and feel like every other one. It was sadly the case for me with this one.

    In the beginning I was getting vibes of "Station Eleven" and even "The Stand" but by the middle point I was bored and struggled to finish the book. I was able to finish it by trying the audiobook but even then I struggled the concentrate.

    Gorgeous Cover but forgettable.

  • Dave

    The Lightest Object in the Universe is a gentle tale about a future world where modern society just stops functioning. No more internet. No more power plants polluting the air. Forget traffic. People use bicycles. Forget overpopulation. The influenza epidemic took care of that. Let's just farm and trade, fair trade only. No zombies. No aliens. No desperate hordes. And, you know what, there was nothing really compelling about the story. There just wasn't

    The Lightest Object in the Universe is a gentle tale about a future world where modern society just stops functioning. No more internet. No more power plants polluting the air. Forget traffic. People use bicycles. Forget overpopulation. The influenza epidemic took care of that. Let's just farm and trade, fair trade only. No zombies. No aliens. No desperate hordes. And, you know what, there was nothing really compelling about the story. There just wasn't any action or anything that really mattered.

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