I wanted so much to like this book, after all it spawned a fantastic game and soon to be realized film(hopefully sooner rather than later) that MGM have bought the rights to. The concept of the story is excellent and one of the best post-apocalyptic ideas and atmospheres I have read but the story itself is overlong and fails to build any tension mainly due to being fleshed out almost ridiculously so in parts.
The story is set twenty years after the planet was ruined by nuclear war and surface life became impossible, but for some, life goes on in the Metro tunnels underneath Moscow. Our protagonist is Artyom and the story follows him as he leaves his home station to travel through the tunnels and pass a warning on to Colonel Melnik at Polis of the impending danger of the mutants created by the radiation fallout, called the Dark Ones.
To reach Polis Artyom travels far, to many stations and meets various people from Che-Guavara revolutionists and Nazi fascists to a religious cult and cannibals. This journey takes two thirds of the book and if anything holds back any discernible tension, whilst the atmosphere of the Metro is experienced fully.
Reaching Polis the pace of the story picks up dramatically as Artyom and his new comrades must travel to the surface and we get a feeling of what the world is now like.
The Metro is a grim and believable setting but the authors need to take you through every particular detail of that first drawn out journey, mainly just detracts from the most engaging and successful part of the story, the gradual reveal of the threat contained on the surface of Moscow and the predators that hunt there.
In conclusion Metro 2033 is a fatally flawed read and stumbles frequently, the pace and tension suffer from over descriptive writing in an attempt to maintain the atmosphere and show us the different people living in the stations, and this did unusually take me over two weeks to read. The story however is compelling and the experience or visualisation of the story is certainly well perceived and this has all the hallmarks of a decent film.