Book Review – 299 Days: The Preparation by Glen Tate

Book Review – 299 Days: The Preparation by Glen Tate

First, be aware that this book is unfortunately packaged as a series of shorter novellas, so the price can be a bit high if you want to read the entire series, but if you are interested in the genre, it is worth the purchase!

The premise of the collapse – an economic collapse – has some interesting facets to it and will definitely get you thinking about the possibility of it actually happening.

Grant hit the button on iTunes to become a subscriber to the Survival Podcast.  He could feel that something bad was coming to America.  It was the strongest nagging feeling he’d had up to that point.  The economy seemed to be a giant fraud.  The analysts on CNBC kept saying that things were fine but Grant didn’t believe them.  Jack Spirko was telling people to get out of the stock market.  That was preposterous; The Dow was at 14,000.  Spirko was adamant.

Then it happened.  All kinds of banks were failing.  There was full-on panic in the US.  It looked like the financial system would melt down.

The start of the novel is really, really REALLY slow.  You go back into the main character’s childhood and it is a lot of “telling” rather than “showing”, and it can be a bit much to slog through, especially when it doesn’t seem to add much to the novel overall – the information could have easily been woven into the story and been more effective – and gotten the reader straight into what most of the readers are most likely interested in – the collapse itself.  It wasn’t until the 14th chapter that prepping was really brought into the picture, and then it was only as baby steps.

The main character hides his beginning prepping mindset, treating it as something that should be ashamed of and hiding it from everyone, so this may rub people the wrong way.  However, just as many people feel this way about their prepping so other will related to it.

Grant went to the bookstore to find books on “survival”.  He was looking at the books secretly; he didn’t want anyone to know what he was looking at.  It felt like the first trip to the gun store.  It was like he was looking for a book like “Beastiality Illustrated.”

Grant meandered over to the “Outdoors” section of the bookstore and waited until no one was looking.  Then he pulled a book, the Special Forces Survival Manual, off the shelf and looked at it, shield it so no one could see the title.

One interesting thing about this book is that it is set in Forks – yes, the same small town as the Twilight series.

And for paperback versions:

Book Review – After the Event by T.A. Williams

Book Review – After the Event by T.A. Williams

This book is the first in a series, but I would consider it a novella rather than a full novel.  It is a quick read if you are looking to pick up something short to read.

In a single moment
hundreds of thousands of people died instantly,
every plane fell from the sky
and the world was plunged into darkness.
This became known as The Event.

The main character is Grant,  deadbeat dad whose alcoholism leads him to disappoint his family time and again.  When his wife passes away, he turns to alcohol to take away the pain and leaves his oldest son with the job of looking after his kids.  Then the disaster hits, known as “The Event”,  hinted to be an EMP.

One nice thing about this book is it had some scenes from the perspective of  the kids in the novel, however it primarily focused on their relationship with their dad, and not so much their reaction to the entire situation.   Towards the end, I just wanted to say hasn’t your dad proven himself to you YET?

I did feel that the kid’s reaction to the whole no electricity thing was a bit unrealistic.  They never complained about lack of television, the food situation or really seem to be affected by the disaster in any way shape or form, except for how it meant their relationship with their father evolved.  They literally took it in stride with not even a minor grumble.  I would have liked to have seen even some minor griping about video games or internet or something!

“Alec, where did all the lights go?” Alya asked as she flopped her head back on his lap.

He ran his hand gently through her hair and stared up into the dark night sky.  How did he answer a question in which he didn’t know the answer? Of course he hadn’t really spent much time pondering the question.  The first few days he had wondered but after that his attention had turned to trying to protect his family.

I felt some of the characters could have been fleshed out more, and it would have added a lot to the book.  Two neighbors could have had more detail added so that as a reader you are invested in them more.  As it is, even though they were vital to survival, we never really learned much about them and they both had numerous skills which could have taught the reader more about prepping.

The story did jump around a bit, which I guess should be expected for being novella length.  For example, they are preparing for winter then next chapter we are nearly through winter, without much explanation about how they survived, which I would have really liked to see, other than brief mentions of hunting and fishing.

Overall, worth a read, especially since they are pretty fast and can be read in a few hours.

Book Review – Lights Out by David Crawford

Book Review – Lights Out by David Crawford

Mark Turner didn’t curse often, but he was pissed. It wasn’t the fact that the lights went out that upset him. They did that three or four times a year in this older, industrial section of town. What bothered him was the fact that the uninterrupted power supply hadn’t kept his computer running, and he had lost over an hour’s worth of work. He needed tech support to send him a new UPS, so he picked up the phone and dialed their number with the help of the dim glow of the emergency lights. Nothing. He hung the phone up and then picked it up again, putting it up to his ear this time. There was no dial tone.

Premise: An EMP strikes the United States and society collapses, turning neighbors into survivalists as they struggle to adjust to a world without power or technology.

If you are a fan of One Second After, this is a great book to read that deals with the same type of scenario hitting the world.  Like that book, this also deals with your everyday people adjusting and surviving to life without power.  The story follows various people with the main storyline centered around your average suburban subdivision with plenty of colorful characters along the way.

This novel had its roots the way many new writers do these days, by self publishing Lights Out in PDF format.  Then the rights were purchased later and officially published.  If you have only read the original self-published version of Lights Out, you are in for a treat when you read the published version.

One of the strong points of this novel is that these are “Joe and Jane Average” citizens instead of “Joe and Jane Prepper” that many of the books of this genre are.  While they may have skills, they aren’t automatically attuned to be able to react and deal with every SHTF situation, so you actually learn a great deal as you read.

But, even as an EMP takes out all electronics and the power grid, there are points that I wonder if it is realistic or not.  The fact grocery stores are still somewhat operational seems a bit far fetched when you think about all electronics being nonoperational.

…Ladies and Gentlemen, the Vice-President of the United States.
My fellow Americans, as you know, an hour and three minutes ago, the power went out. Also affected were most of the communication and transportation systems in the continental United States, most of Canada, and parts of Mexico. This seems to the effect of a large EMP burst.

There is a great sense of community in this one, as the Silver Hills subdivision bands together to deal with the crisis and protect their homes and each other.   They block off the entrance of the subdivision and form schedules for standing guard.  There is also a great lesson about seeds for growing vegetables, as many people don’t realize hybrid seeds cannot be saved for replanting.

The characters are pretty strong and many will become beloved as you read and you definitely get invested in their characters as they face each new danger.  Even the supporting characters are great – I personally loved Gunny, their neighbor and former Gunnery Sergeant and resident conspiracy theorist.

This is another great “intro to prepping” novel to give family and friends you are hoping would get more interested in preparing for the unknown.