Crawford, author of Lights Out has presented another fast-paced post apocalyptic tale set in the near future. The United States has fallen victim to a total economic collapse known as the “Smash”. It was likely brought about by a perfect storm of too much debt, exorbitant fuel prices, devaluated dollar and plunging housing market. As gas stations and grocery stores run short and there‘s no electricity or running water, the authorities are loosing control and gangs begin roaming the streets. For security specialist DJ Frost, this is the event he has spent years preparing for. With custom equipment and a bug-out location, DJ leaves the city behind on his modified ATV on a trip he figures should take a couple of days. One day out and already DJ is having to modify his plans as the unexpected continues to challenge him at every turn and things just go downhill from there.
Following the death of his wife and young son, Gabe Horne has spent the majority of his time tending a large garden and escaping the painful loss by inhabiting a bottle. Nearby neighbors, Jane and her son Robbie are better off then many folks. She raises chickens that produce enough eggs for barter, has a big water cistern and a good supply of food laid in, all of which are certain to become targets of the maraudering gangs beginning to move out into the countryside. As Jane works to pull Gabe out of the bottle, a tenuous relationship begins to grow. Eventually Gabe, once a recluse becomes a vital part of a loose knit community as they work to protect what is theirs. Eventually the men will reach a critical juncture with chilling results.
Crawford‘s simple writing style works nicely in this story that is as much about DJ and Gabe‘s choices as it is about coping with a total economic collapse. It demonstrates with startling clarity that having all the right gear, an escape route and a bug-out destination is no guarantee that things will go according to plan. The story is told from the perspective of two main characters who evolve throughout the crisis and sometimes change isn‘t a good thing. Although the conclusion doesn‘t deliver any surprises, it hammers home the point that the best-laid plans often go awry.
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