Book Review: American Apocalypse

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Cover Art: "American Apocalypse" by NovaThe American Apocalypse series has four-parts. The author NOVA (NoVA) lives outside Washington, D.C.   The main character lives in the general area of the city of Fairfax in the first book, and out near (but not in) Winchester in the second, although the author is less specific about the second locale.  The author also has made the odd choice to not use regular names for most characters. The main character is Gardner.  Ninja and Night are two of his friends.

This fiction series follows what happens to one normal, somewhat lazy guy when the American economy collapses. You learn about the early stages from backstory and exposition because it picks up at a point when it’s normal for people to be living in their cars or camping in the woods, and abandoned, vandalized housing developments are not rare.

The story is interesting and held my attention, although the lack of an editor left the first book with irritating punctuation errors and typos.  The characters and the environment they are living in grow and change as the collapse progresses.  There are a variety of personality types throughout the story, and it explores how they might react to the changes that occur. Everything is seen from the point of view of normal people, not commandos or survivalists or anyone with any particularly advance preparation, with the exception of one former Marine. As a side note, you can’t throw a stone in NoVA without finding military, retired or otherwise, so not having any in this story is more than a little unbelievable.

Much of what I find interesting about this series is how mundane most of it is.  For example, the author describes the waves of destruction that overtook a housing development of (formerly) million-dollar mini mansions that is about to be razed to the ground, and efforts by shopkeepers to keep their businesses open.  Unlike other books I’ve read in the genre, roadways are still generally open (depending on local conditions) and people can initially move about fairly freely.  The society that was there before is still clearly visible, particularly in the beginning when they go to a McDonalds that is still open for the free WiFi. That changes as things continue to collapse and the country becomes more third world than first world.

If you are a huge fan of hard-core TEOTWAWKI literature like James Rawles, this might not be your cup of tea. If you’re looking for a more realistic depiction of how an affluent urban area might rapidly fall apart if the economy falls apart, then you’ll probably enjoy this book.  I definitely recommend the series, although perhaps not to anyone who is driven slightly nuts by some random typos and other editorial errors.

The titles of the books in the series are American Apocalypse: The Collapse Begins, American Apocalypse: Wastelands, American Apocalypse III: Migrations, and American Apocalypse IV: Rescue.  There are also two related books, Gardener Summer, set early in the series and fills in some background, and The Chosen.  You can visit the author’s blog, here.

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Bethanne is an eclectic writer who lives in the exurbs (that's what comes after the suburbs) with her husband, sons, and cats. She has been writing for The Survival Mom since 2010. You can learn more about her books, including the "Survival Skills for All Ages" series, at

9 thoughts on “Book Review: American Apocalypse”

  1. Thanks for the review Liz. My wife, Laura, and I enjoy reading these types of books. We're a little less enthusiastic about the Rawles books and more in touch with the Lights Out and Lucifer's Hammer types. In fact, we've reviewed a number of them over on our site. I'd be interested in your take on some of them.

    Thanks again. I'm going to put American Apocalypse on my list.


  2. I have read most of the series. The first few books are good reads because, as mentioned in this review, it details a slow collapse down to every detail. However, as the series goes on there are supernatural and pegan goddesses and gods that become involved which lead me to not finish the series.

  3. I just bought this book for myself for Christmas. It was not as good as I had hoped it would be. I tend to like the Lights Out & Rawles books. I did read a really good young adult book that has stayed with me. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer was an interesting read, once I started I had to know what happened.

  4. Other PA books:

    "Malevil", "Alas, Babylon" — both take place after a nuclear war. These are older books, so the situations and technology are a bit dated, but ISTR the characters having an easier time of adapting.

    "Lucifer's Hammer" — Joe mentioned it, above. Ultimate natural disaster — a comet strike. I'm a life-long SF fan and particular fan of Niven and Pournelle, so I'm biased, but I re-read this one from time to time because it's enjoyable. Getting a bit long in the tooth (written in the late '70s), but aren't we all?

    "77 Days in September" by Ray Gorham — Kindle e-book, self-published. EMP aftermath. The main character starts the story on a plane — but gets lucky. He ends up walking home — from Texas to Minnesota.

    "The Jakarta Pandemic" by Steven Konkoly — Another self-published e-book find. A look at what it could mean to shelter in-place. The main character has almost ludicrously well-prepared his family, but that's OK, because the story here is about how they get along with neighbors, refugees, etc.

      1. Hey,
        I just wanted to mention that I have released American Apocalypse parts 1 and 2 as audiobooks, available on Audible and iTunes. I also released The Jakarta Pandemic in early June 2012.

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