I wasn't sure how I'd like this, based on the fact that usually I find older novels dated and stale. I was happy to find that this wasn't the case on this occasion. Granted, the cover looks like an old B-Movie poster with it's colouring and skyline and naked woman, but get beyond that and you'll find an engaging read.
The concept is one that fascinates me - astronaughts travel into space for what is thought to be a short jaunt but due to a malfunction they return home to find that time hasn't elapsed on earth as it has for them in space and centuries have come and gone For reasons unknown the population has been all but wiped out and civilisation is no more.
We never really get to a point where we know exactly what has happened to the planet, but that's only because we learn/know things as they are learned/known by the heroes. They never really reach a point of understanding therefore neither do we. The closest they (we) come to knowing is mention of the time known as 'Nowell time' to the few remaining humans, and that's as good as it gets.
That's what makes it gripping though. It's the not knowing. It could be waiting to happen, just around the corner from where we are now. It's a grim, brutal world they have returned to and the skills and knowledge they have don't count for very much in this new world. It was automatic to put myself in their position and wonder how I would cope, or if I COULD cope. There are no clues to what happened, there is no-one alive that remembers the period from which the heroes came, time has ravaged almost everything that could help with finding answers and it's like an itch that can't be scratched. So they resign themselves to starting again. With nothing. They quickly learn that it's not going to be an easy ride.
The writing style is such that the pace seems slow, but before you know it the ending has crept up on you and you're wishing there was more.
The story stayed me long after the last page was read because in this climate of global change, the world could be closer to 'the quiet place' than we realise and if the end of the world is anything like this story, we'd better toughen up and prepare for the worst.