I used to read one book after another and even won an award in 1st grade as an official, “Prescott, Arizona,Bookworm!” If I ever find the photo of myself wearing a bookworm costume standing in front of the city library, I’ll post it.
These days I’m more likely to be found reading non-fiction survival manuals and rarely have time to read simply for pleasure. However, last month I set a goal to begin reading survival, or apocalyptic, fiction and have 3 books under my belt.
Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
This book came highly recommended by a number of friends who are avid readers, and they were right on the money with their positive reviews. I thoroughly enjoyed the book once the action got started, about 25% into the book. Here is my review on video.
The Jakarta Pandemic by Steven Konkoly
Again, a winner in the category of survival fiction. This time around it’s a worldwide pandemic that threatens humanity. No family is untouched by the ravages of this virus, but fortunately, our hero, Alex Fletcher is a prepper and his family is well prepared for this and just about any other crisis.
It’s apparent from the first pages that everything Alex does, in terms of being prepared, is for the sake of his family. His wife, Kate, is completely on board but occasionally challenges Alex’s decisions and judgement. Together, they make a strong team, determined to protect their family from, first, the flu and then multiple dangers that come from neighbors and strangers alike.
Alex has three advantages: he’s a former Marine, is a pharmaceutical sales rep with access to a lot of medical information, and has an extremely well stocked basement with every sort of provision his family will need.
This book really kept my interest throughout and made me think about how prepared our family isn’t for a large scale pandemic. Unlike many other disaster scenarios, this one would require an individual or family to remain completely isolated for months. I had never thought that something as simple as my mail could transmit a virus or that a deadly pandemic would shut down power plants, water/sewage plants, and virtually eliminate most first responders.
There are a few odd notes here and there, such as Alex’s ridicule of Fox News and his obsession with watching The Today Show. Often these details didn’t dovetail with the picture I was getting in my mind of this character, his motivations, and state of mind.
Survivalists and preppers will enjoy reading about Alex’s stash of food, weapons, and other supplies, as well as some of his tactical and strategic decisions.
The Jakarta Pandemic has been recorded for readers who enjoy listening to their books, and that recording can be found here. It’s available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.
Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and as a mom, give it a PG rating for language and a bit of graphic violence.
77 Days in September by Ray Gorham
Survival fiction authors seem to love the idea of an EMP (electro magnetic pulse), and that’s the disaster du jour in this fairly short novel. The EMP happens early in the book, so we have the remaining 220+ pages to watch the survival story unfold.
Kyle Tait of Deer Creek, Montana, is headed home from Houston and looking forward to spending time with his family. Unfortunately, two coordinated teams of terrorists have other plans which they know will change the world forever. Like clockwork, missiles are launched from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cape Hatteras and 40 miles west of Newport, Oregon, in the Pacific. One missile malfunctions but military brass based at NORAD watch, horrified, knowing what is about to happen.
If you’ve read One Second After, you have a good idea of the effects of an EMP, and many of these are detailed in 77 Days in September. Our hero, Kyle, is fairly quick to realize why planes have crashed, cell phones no longer work, and there are hundreds of stranded cars in the street. He knows that, above all, he has to get home to his wife and three kids in spite of a 1500+ mile journey.
Kyle sets out on foot with nothing but a cart filled with some camping and survival supplies, a bit of food, and some water. Traveling through Texas is easy but with winter approaching, he knows the real challenge will be forging through Wyoming and Montana as winter sets in.
I’ve never written fiction, and it’s easy to criticize and second guess what Kyle should or could have done, but he shows himself to be a survivor with a powerful determination to get home or die trying. His wife, Jennifer, isn’t made of the same strong stuff, though. She has to deal with a shortage of food, an obnoxious sheriff who is determined to seduce her, and, gasp!, taking notes at the community’s survival meetings but unfortunately, she doesn’t come across as a take-charge Survival Mom. Instead she spends a lot of time missing Kyle and seemed to be the type of woman who would rather someone else do all the survival stuff for her.
Ray Gorham is a new author and did an excellent job of creating a few characters that I really cared about. I kept turning pages into the night, wanting to know whether or not Kyle made it home. When Kyle arrives, nearly dead, at the home of Rose, I wanted them to fall in love and stay together. I loved the character of Rose more than Jennifer.
If a reader is looking for survival tips tucked away in this novel, you will find very, very few. I would have liked to know more about staying alive on a long trek across rough terrain, how to stay warm in a blizzard, and how to forage for food, but those details are missing.It’s a page-turner but falls short in this area that, I know, interests a lot of preppers.
This book deserves 3.5 stars out of 5 and a Survival Mom rating of PG for mild language and minor sexual situations.
Want to read more? Check out these books recommended by Survival Mom readers!
- 77 Days in September by Ray Gorham
- Cyber Storm by Matthew Mather
- Dies the Fire: A Novel of the Change by S.M. Stirling
- Grid Down Reality Bites by Bruce Hemming
- Going Home by A. American
- Into the Darkness by Doug Kelly
- Land by Theresa Shaver — Watch my video review.
- The Last Layover by Steven Bird
- Last Light by Terri Blackstock — Christian fiction
- Lights Out by David Crawford — One of the first books to focus on EMP and still a very good read.
- Outage by Ellisa Barr — We reviewed this book here.
- The Perseid Collapse by Steven Konkoly
- Post Grid: An Arizona EMP Adventure by Tony & Nancy Martineau
- The Wandering Highway by Ike W. Warren
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