Dave and Sarah Anna Speer had been preparing for Armageddon for years. They thought they'd covered all the bases, and had planned for everything. It never occurred to them that the single thing they had no control over was the timing. Sarah was on an airplane with her young daughters when solar storms bombarded the earth with electromagnetic pulses. Everything powered by electricity or batteries was instantly shorted out and would never work again. Dave was suddenly alone. He was also unsure whether his family was dead or alive. He assumed that the airplane stopped working and plunged from the sky. But it was scheduled to land in Kansas City at almost the exact time everything stopped working. Had they landed in time? Was it possible they survived?
This is the story of a man facing Armageddon alone. It chronicles the things he does to survive in a newly vicious world. It also includes Dave's desperate and poignant diary entries to his wife. Just in case she did survive, and somehow makes it back to him to find he didn't make it himself.
Dave and Sarah are preppers who believe that an EMP disaster is coming and they start prepping for it by gathering supplies and setting up plans to protect themselves and their home in the aftermath. The only thing they didn't plan for was that Sarah and their two daughters would be out of state, going to a wedding when the blast hits and Dave is left alone, unsure of what has happened to his family. Now he must survive and stay strong, preparing for winter, before he can think about going to find his family.
I liked the way the book started, showing how Dave and Sarah were researching the Mayans and the rumours of the end of the world. They start to think that the Mayans were really warning of a man made disaster that will render life as they know it gone. It looks as if it could be an EMP blast that is coming, so our heroes start preparing for it. Dave takes a second job to earn the income to prep fully and they start gathering food, wood, weapons, and everything the family need to make their home secure. This is explained to the reader near the start of the book as Dave takes his family to the airport. I liked the idea of linking the EMP to the Mayans as that was different from other EMP stories.
This book was unusual in that there is very little dialogue. In the tradition of I Am Legend, our hero is alone and lonely, and every day he has another project to do in making his home safe from looters, instead of vampires. It is also a prepper manual as we follow what Dave is doing step by step as he sets up various projects and solves new problems. Perhaps some people will find it a little boring because it lacks dialogue and character interaction, but I personally found all the detail fascinating.
Dave's projects were really interesting and smart. He starts by making his house look empty by putting a foreclosure notice on the door, leaving old newspapers on the porch and emptying the front room of furniture. He moves on to getting petrol from his wife's car and water into as many containers as he can. Over the weeks he tries to adapt his methods for rain collection and food storage, building outhouses and safe rooms, planting seeds and breeding rabbits. He had a lot of things planned long before the disaster which is now saving him time, and the whole thing was just gripping, despite the lack of real action.
There is an element of humanity through the book as Dave changes and his character develops. At first his attitude is that he doesn't have to help anybody or feel guilty about everything he has collected. He thinks that if others were too dumb or lazy to prepare, then that was their problem and not his. However something happens that makes Dave question whether it is right to let his neighbours starve just because they are not preppers. I found his dilemma interesting. I could see where he was coming from, having spent time and money preparing for the worst, and thinking that he doesn't need to help those who chose not to do the same. However, what Dave faces is a horrible thing and his guilt starts eating away at him. I liked what came next.
This was a really enjoyable book and you can relate to Dave as he is just an ordinary guy who wants to look after his family. He is not superhuman. He gets tired, lonely, frustrated and depressed, just as anyone in his situation would.
I've already ordered the next book in the series which follows Dave through his first winter in a changed world. I recommend this to people interested in prepper or apocalypse fiction.