This dramatic novel about Chernobyl was ultimately a disappointment. It tried to draw a sharp connection between the terrible accident and the political system which formed its context. Despite the narrative mastery on display, the young author failed to accomplish this feat.
The notion that Chernobyl was the consequence of actually existing state socialism does not appear to be a sustainable one. Nuclear disasters have occurred within the heartlands of advanced capitalism. Back in 1957, the potential problems with the technology were evident in Cumbria when a big fire broke out.In 1979, a significant meltdown underlined that the United States was not immune from hazard. And the catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan underlined that the dangers have not been consigned to history. Nobody knows where disaster might happen again. Perhaps the most striking thing about this vibrant novel was the famous quote it borrowed from Marx and Engels:
“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”