Friday, October 14, 2011

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

Plot: America has been sent back to the Dark Ages by an Electromagnetic Pulse: no electricity, no cars and no communication. One man's town struggles to survive with little food or water and too many refugees pouring in. John Matherson must organize rations, dole out punishment for crimes and attempt to solve each and every  one of the problems that together threaten to wipe out the whole nation.

Comments: This book scared me. What if a country actually attacks us with EMPs and we are sent back to medieval times? Would it be as bad as in this book? Worse? Terrible things happened in the pages of this book that still haunt my thoughts. This book brings up many questions - given a similar disastrous situation, would humans react with supposedly long-buried survival instincts, looting and rioting and killing each other in a primal, frantic panic? That is a question I'm not sure I want to know the answer to.

Somehow this book was also rather touching. A few characters really stole my heart, courageous and determined as they were. One scene that really affected me occurred immediately following a horrifyingly violent battle. Those college students desperately trying to save each other and coming face to face with the realities of war, of dead friends and loved ones, feeling their own helplessness as they realize they cannot save everyone. It was devastating. I wish no one ever had to feel that way but I'm fiercely glad that this book bluntly reminds us of the consequences of war.

This book had interesting organizational systems and complicated political maneuvers, but most of all it was terrifyingly realistic. I was afraid to put it down. One Second After is certainly very gripping. I absolutely recommend it, but not as light reading.

Rating: I rate this book a nine out of ten.

Where the Lilies Bloom by Bill and Vera Cleaver

Plot: When her father dies, fourteen-year-old Mary Call does her stubborn best to take care of her brother and sisters. She refuses to allow the family to be separated into foster homes, instead discovering creative ways to make and save money. Even so, they barely scrape by and trouble after trouble piles up for Mary Call as bitter winter nears.

Comments: This was alike to an adventure novel with a tint of sadness. Mary Call is a beautifully strong and independent young woman and I enjoyed the sharp-tongued retorts she directed towards a stingy man named Kiser. I also appreciated Mary Call's devotion to education and her understanding of its importance. Mary Call wanted her family to be respectable and she worked hard to maintain order and a sense of pride. Her brother and sisters did not understand this at first but eventually accepted Mary Call's rigid standards of living.

There were a lot of detailed descriptions in this story but I'm afraid I skipped over quite a bit of that. I have no patience for pages of scenery. But I could tell that the mountains on which they were living were very beautiful and could imagine the serenity of nature's beauty contrasting sharply with Mary Call and her struggling family. The ending was rather abrupt and felt very strange, not at all like a conclusion. It left something to be desired. However, after having read the story I felt I had learned a bit about determination, sticking together no matter what and always finding a way out.

Rating: I rate this book a seven out of ten.