Novelists are cranking out apocalyptic sagas like link sausages these days. So it’s refreshing to find one that rises above hackneyed formulas to create a parable of faith and perseverance.
Author Robert Repino ventures beyond George Orwell’s Animal Farm into new territory. Sebastian, soon to be renamed Mort(e), is content in his life as a neutered housecat until a rebellion of ants transforms him and the world’s other animals into an army of intelligent beings bent on destroying the human race. But Mort(e) has a more personal goal: to be reunited with his dog companion Sheba, who disappears during the war.
What makes this outlandish premise work is the author’s imaginative journey into the minds of ants and mammals. Who among us hasn’t noticed the resilience of ants against pesticides, or their selfless devotion to the welfare of the colony? Organized by a tyrannical queen, the ants become an unstoppable kamikaze force, working with their animal allies to wipe out their human enemies.
Combining adventure with mystery and suspense, Repino maintains a relentless pace while introducing us to characters whose motivations for rebellion are well founded. WaWa is a refugee from a ruthless dog-fighting operation. Culdesac (his name a stroke of narrative genius) is a bobcat who becomes a charismatic commanding officer, his anger fueled by resentment of humans who forced him to survive on rats and grubs. As for Mort(e), though he becomes a great warrior, he does so in order to find his beloved household companion.
The response of humans to their plight, and the essential goodness in animals, lift Mort(e) above the mundane. Theirs is an odyssey of love and faith that God, in his own love, still watches over us in the worst of times.
Despite occasional offensive language, Mort(e) stands out as a beautifully constructed story of loyalty and courage.