In the nuclear wasteland of the near future life has become a harsh struggle for survival. Wandering between ramshackle towns, the teenage Kid is picked up by a band of raiders: the maniac Wolf, taciturn Dolly, compassionate Tank and charming Pretty Boy. She soon discovers that the group survives through cannibalism – the last taboo in this shattered world – and that someone is searching for them.
Not bothering with such unnecessities as set up or scene setting, the first page kicks off with Kid meeting the others, after which the story quickly spirals into an extended action sequence and from there things barely pause for a breather. The short chapters and kinetic pace keep the story flowing at a relentless rate as the group violently hops from one settlement to the next with the goal of discovering who is targeting them and why.
Highly reminiscent of Mad Max, Bite is not so much a tale of heroes and villains, or even antiheroes and villains, as in the barren wastes of the desolate future selflessness has become redundant. There is only the depths to which people will sink in order to survive one day to the next, and it’s a testament to the characterisation that the band of murderous cannibals remain more sympathetic than anyone they encounter. Everyone’s a selfish shitbag, but these “sharks” manage to function as a highly dysfunctional family; regardless of how little they may like or trust each other, they’re stuck together for good or ill. Even Kid, who has the closest thing to a morality compass of anyone, still understands the necessity of doing what you must to survive and quickly adapts to her new situation.
The nicknames the raiders have for each other are the result of the tendency of people to die so quickly and frequently there’s little point in trying to get to know them. Even Kid, who narrates the entire story, reveals very little about herself, and so the loss of names becomes part of a loss of identity and a constant reminder of the brief and transitory nature of life in the harsh and unforgiving desert. As the past is quite literally gone and the future a constant uncertainty, everyone lives in the present, and so life is merely what you do with the few precious moments you still possess. And in the case of these guys, it usually involves shooting people or blowing them up.
engaging and brutal, Bite is an uncomplicated tale but a decent effort from a
debuting author, and promises greater things to come.
BITE / AUTHOR: K S MERBETH / PUBLISHER: ORBIT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW