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.

Book Review – One Second After by William R. Forstchen

Book Review – One Second After by William R. Forstchen

“Look, John, something’s up. Got a problem here. I gotta—”

The phone went dead.

At that same instant, the ceiling fan began to slowly wind down, the stereo in Jennifer’s room shut down, and looking over to his side alcove office he saw the computer screen saver disappear, the green light of the on button on the nineteen-inch monitor disappearing. There was a chirping beep, the signal that the home security and fire alarm system was off-line; then that went silent as well.


Silence on the other end. John snapped the phone shut.

Damn, power failure.

The Premise: An E.M.P. attack on the United States leaves this family trying to adjust to life without electricity when faced with medical conditions, lack of food, raiders and survivability.

If you are looking into a book to dip your toes into about what happens when society breaks down, this is the book for you.  William R. Forstchen weaves a tale of your average suburban family leading your average family life when the power goes out, dumping this technologically savvy family back to the pre-electric lifestyle.  It is presented in such a realistic way that any person can read it and think wow, this could totally be me.

This book really gets you thinking, and is often the book that starts people on the road to starting to prep, whether it is ensuring you have extra canned goods in the cupboard to full on prepping.

It also deals with many real life situations that many of us would experience, such as family in a nursing home, medical conditions that require constant care and dealing with angsty teenagers who just want to get back on Facebook.

He didn’t say anything. There was a thought, but it was too disturbing to contemplate right now. He wanted to believe that it was just a weird combination of coincidences, a power failure that might be regional, and would ground most flights due to air traffic control. Maybe it was some sort of severe solar storm, potent enough to trigger a massive short circuit; a similar event had happened up in Canada several years ago.

A thought hit him.

The book also has an informative intro about what exactly an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) is and why it would be so devastating if one was unleashed in the country you live in.

This is also one of those books you should be prepared that you will stay up all night reading.  The first time I read it (yes, I have read this one multiple times!), I stayed up until 6am finishing it!  I literally couldn’t put it down.

I have recommended this to several friends, and it has had an impact on almost everyone.  And if you are a prepper and trying to get your friends and family on board with getting themselves prepared (so you don’t have to!), then this is the book to give them as a present to really make them think about what would happen if society collapsed around them, what they would do, and if they had the chance, how they would prepare.