Bite by KS Merbeth book review

The world’s a wasteland in KS Merbeth’s debut novel, Bite

When you’re a teenage girl travelling by yourself across a post-apocalyptic wasteland, jumping into a car with cannibals seems like the worst idea. But for Kid, it works out pretty well.

Her new travelling companions – the manic Wolf, bad-ass Dolly, cowardly Pretty Boy and enormous Tank – might not be the good guys, but they’re not all bad, either. There are far worse things in the wastes…

Structurally, Bite’s plot is a pretty standard on-the-road one; Kid and her crew are the kind of scavengers who need to keep moving, both to find new people to trade with and because their previous encounters have left a trail of enemies in their wake.

What gives the book its edge is the ever-shifting moral code of its main characters. In any other story they’d be the villains – after all, they happily lie, steal, kill, and even eat human flesh in their efforts to survive. But after civilisation has collapsed, the definitions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ have loosened a bit, and even murderous bandits have to go somewhere after they’ve finished wreaking havoc.

Debut author KS Merbeth keeps things pretty light, and doesn’t dig too deeply into her characters’ anarchism-lite philosophy. She focuses on the action. The whole book rattles along at a breakneck pace – neither the characters nor the reader gets much room to reflect on anything that happens before the next catastrophe has arrived.

It’s a fun read, and fans of shows like Firefly should find it very much to their taste.