Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Book Review: Countdown to Armageddon by Darrell Maloney (Countdown #1)

Scott Harter was an average man. He wasn't dumb, but he'd never be invited to join Mensa either. He'd liked to have married a beauty queen, but his average looks certainly did nothing to attract any. Neither did his vanilla personality. No, Scott was average in every way, except when it came to luck. He was a very lucky man. And that's how he managed to discover what the Mayans really meant about the world ending on December 21st, 2012. 

Scott learned that the Mayans never said the world was going to end that day. What they said was that day marked the beginning of a period that would see the end of civilization as we know it. Scott knew that big changes were coming. The Mayans left several clues about the pending disaster. He just didn't know when. He didn't know if he had two days to prepare, or two years.

To protect his family, Scott threw every resource he had into preparing for the end. And some resources he didn't have. This is Scott's story.

My Review: 
I love what I've read of this author so I'm going to do some gushing and I'm not ashamed of it! I've read the first book in his 'Alone' and 'Final Dawn' series as well as this one 'Countdown to Armageddon' and I've enjoyed each one. I can't tell you how much I want to complete each series now but you know what it's like when you have sooo many tbr books!

Scott runs a chain of storage facilities and when one is abandoned by the owner, he looks through it for useful stuff for himself before auctioning the rest of the contents. Not strictly legal but you can imagine a lot of people doing the same in his position. It is in one of these lockers that he finds the details about the Mayan prophecy for the end of the world due to a solar flare taking out the grid. His own research leads Scott to believe that this is going to happen in the near future and he decides he must be ready to save his family. I've also read up on things like solar flares so I was able to put myself firmly in Scott's position and imagine what I would do if I was him.

I also love to read about the various different types of preppers and I enjoy following their journey from living in blissful ignorance, so to speak, to starting to prepare for the unexpected. I enjoyed watching Scott purchase a rural property to use as a bug out location when trouble comes, and start to solve all the problems of power, food, water, working vehicles and security. The tension is ramped up with each passing chapter as you KNOW the disaster is coming but not when, and you are urging Scott and his family to move faster to be ready in time! I find this kind of book exciting and it is also educational if you are interested in prepping. 

This author is really good at making you care about all the characters. I liked Scott and for me, liking the MC in a book is so important to my enjoyment of the story, especially in disaster fiction. If I hate the MC I won't care what happens to him/her. Scott's new girlfriend is Joyce, the estate agent who sold him the house and she is an amateur prepper so he feels able to share his plans with her. He is still friends with his ex-wife Linda, who is currently in an abusive relationship with a violent man. Scott wants to include Linda in the plans but does not want her boyfriend to be involved in any way. I liked that we had a couple who were able to stay friends after the divorce, and that Linda and Joyce quickly became friends too. It was nice not to have fights and angst, just three people working happily together. Scott and Linda have two sons Jordan and Zachary who also get on well with Joyce. The other character was Tom, who owns a neighbouring property and helps Scott get a few projects up and running. He is a really nice guy, the kind you want as a neighbour. And lets not forget the family dog Duke!

The dramatic bit of the story is when the solar flare hits. You know it is coming and Scott has set up a plan for what they are to do if they are not together when it happens. Joyce is at work, thirty minutes from Scott's family home which is the meeting place. Jordan and Zachary are both at their schools. Scott is asleep in bed at the compound and Linda is twenty miles away in a traffic jam. The story switches now to each of the characters as they face different challenges on their way to the meeting place. I loved this part of the book. If the tension was building before the flare, it was nothing compared to when the flare actually arrives! People are confused, and some quickly become violent as our heroes put their plans into action. It was pretty exciting stuff! You are willing them all to make good choices and get home safely.

How quickly would society break down? Imagine you are at work miles from home with a car that no longer works and a long walk ahead. If it happens in the morning, you might get home well ahead of dark but in this case the flare hits later and each member struggles to get home before it gets dark. Scary huh! This book is set in America so armed people wanting to steal your bike or food is a very real issue...and this series has society falling apart almost instantly. It is a pretty unnerving scenario!

So do they all get home safe? Do they make it out to the compound? Read for yourself and find out! I seriously cannot wait to read on in this series and find out what happens to everyone. I rate this author as one of my top five disaster authors. I recommend this book to prepper enthusiasts, disaster/apocalypse fans.
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