Thursday, 4 August 2016

Book Review: Final Dawn by Darrell Maloney (Escape from Armageddon #1)

What would you do if you finally found the love of your life and were making plans to spend eternity with them - and then found out that eternity was only two years? Mark is a romantic and carefree young engineer, and a bit of a cornball. His beloved Hannah is a beautiful scientist. Pragmatic, intelligent and analytical, she longs for the family she never had, and a change from her horrific childhood. Mark offers that change, and her life is finally complete. Then Hannah discovers that mankind is doomed. Suddenly their lives become a mad scramble, to find a way to save themselves and everyone they love.

My Review:
I love this author but I was somewhat put off reading it at first by the description of it as an apocalyptic love story. I'm not a romance fan especially in dystopia so I nearly didn't read it-but I'm so glad I did! When we join the story our MCs are already in a happy and stable relationship with no angst or mass sex scenes. It is about how a couple planning a future together are derailed by an impending disaster. So if you don't like romance, don't be put off by that description. This is very much an apocalypse novel with normal relationships running through it.

Mark is a security expert and Hannah is a scientist, and they are shocked to have won the Powerball jackpot. Before they get a chance to think about how rich they have become, Hannah is demoted at work for telling her bosses that an asteroid is on collision course with Earth and will hit in under 2 years. Hannah realises that it is being covered up so the public will know nothing until it hits, to avoid panic, while the chosen government people hide in newly constructed bunkers. She also realises that others in her department were demoted for the same reason. Now Hannah and Mark decide to build their own bunker for family and friends.

The action switches to the old salt mine that the couple buy and start to turn into an underground bunker where they will safely sit out the 5-7 years of ice age after the blast. On the same land they also build a huge home on the surface that they can live in when the Earth heats again. I was fascinated by their preperations and how hard they tried to conceal the true nature of the projects from the contractors for security reasons. They also tackle the issues of sleeping arrangements, food storage, clothing supplies for growing people, water, power, schooling, entertainment, animals, fuel...knowing that if they don't get enough, they can't just go shopping once the bunker is sealed. I always love the preperation parts of these novels, watching as the projects are completed and how problems are solved.

I also liked the moral question of who to bring into the bunker and where the cutoff must be. It is decided that 40 must be the maximum and only immediate family, which causes problems when spouses married into the family realise their own parents and siblings are excluded. It is a tough thing to have to think about. Which 40 would you choose and who would you leave behind to probably die? Needless to say, this is left until two months before the impact. There is also the question for Hannah and Sarah about whether to go public with the story to warn the general population and give them the chance to save themselves. The decision to do this with four months to go puts them on the government radar, but brings forward others to confirm their story.

What this author does so well is balance the tension with the development of the characters. This is one of the best authors I've read for making you love the characters and root for them in the survival situations. Mark and Hannah are a nice, normal couple when we meet them. The other two MCs who I also like are Hannah's best friend and co-worker Sarah, and Mark's brother Bryan. These are the first two people let into the secret and the four of them deal with the preperations. They are the kind of characters you like and would want to have as friends so you want them to survive, which is vital to me in apocalypse novels.

The book takes place over the two years from Hannah discovering impending doom, to the chosen ones moving into the bunker with a week to go. It is a tense story and you gradually watch the clock ticking down, hoping that the characters manage to get inside safely before the blast happens, and without the government finding them. That added a whole new level of tension to the book! I found it a totally compelling read and another great start to a series by this author. I plan to finish the three series by the author during the summer or autumn and I'm very much looking forward to reading them all.

Recommended for fans of apocalypse fiction and prepper fiction.

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