Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (11/15)
Article first published as Book Review: ‘Killing Juggernaut’ by Jared Bernard on Blogcritics.
“Killing Juggernaut” by Jared Bernard begins at the end. Planet Earth is in dire straits. Entire species of plants and animal are wiped out worldwide. Lack of clean water leads to pandemics. Environmental degradation from overpopulation, farming, and industrialization is responsible for creating a severe global socio-economic crisis. Attempts at conservation have failed because of distrust of governmental control and greed.
The narrator of this story is an astronomer named Patrick. The tale begins at the end of the story with seventy-one year old Patrick as the last survivor on the planet. Having to watch as other survivors in different colonies died off from starvation, dehydration, and disease, he journeys to Africa, where human life began, in order to die. Patrick has written a journal to share the story of what happened to bring about the demise of humanity. He hopes that there are people out there somewhere that will find his journal and know the truth.
As an astronomer, Patrick spent 40 years trying to track the progress of the gigantic space ship Apeiron. It carried 32,000 people from Earth and headed for Pegasus, a planet with a biosphere 50 light years away. Apeiron launched in 2104 and was supposed to land in 2162, but no messages had been received from it for years. The anticipated return of Apeiron to shuttle more survivors to the new planet, was everyone’s last hope for survival. Using the remaining functioning antennas at the Array Operations Center in North America, Patrick discovers some messages that tell him the fate of the ship. In trying to figure out exactly what happened, he learns about the key people involved in the creation and the destruction of this ship.
Mission Commander Dr. Aidan McGuigan was behind the idea for this ship. He helped lead The Mission for Humanity, whose goal was to lessen the population of Earth by sending inhabitants to a new planet. Parents and their children were carefully selected for this mission. The children were to be future replacements for their parents when the ship finally reached the new planet, and were to be trained to coordinate the return of the shuttle. Things did not go quite as expected. In reviewing ship’s logs, Patrick discovers that the children began an uprising, which attacked the very aspects of the ship that were to help keep them alive. Whether it was lack of faith in the mission or depression from being contained in a closed environment for so long, things were not going as planned and the destructive acts led to more problems. The knowledge Patrick gained from what happened was eye opening, but unfortunately too late to be able to use it to save the planet.
As a reader, it made me feel sad to know that this could very well be the future of our planet. With the overuse of our natural resources and the destruction of the habitats of various species, I am disheartened to think that we are headed in this direction. I feel that “Killing Juggernaut” by Jared Bernard is important reading. Even though it is a fictional story, it is incredibly realistic. It is also really well written and the development of the characters keeps the novel from being buried in scientific and technical jargon. This novel is highly recommended reading.