First time I read anything by this author.
Basically one big cautionary tale with the foreword (Newt Gingrinch), the novel itself, and the afterword (Capt. Bill Sanders) about the possibility of EMP catastrophe and its effects on a North Carolina college town and its residents.
As a (very) long time reader of SF and post-apocalytic tales, I saw lots of cliches. Lots of characters with no common sense or survival sense. I really don't understand why it got so many 5 star reviews on Amazon - there are so many more better written books out there. I should have paid more attention to the review that said, "It read like a novelization of a Lifetime Television disaster-movie-of-the-week."
I would suggest that readers new to this type of books read "Lucifer's Hammer" by Niven and Pournelle, or "The Postman" by Brin, or "Emergence" by Palmer, or even "The Stand" by King.
Before I get into a review, I have to start by saying: this book scared me to death. Thanks, Mr. Forstchen, for giving me something else to worry about late at night.
One Second After is a work of fiction, but the introduction by Newt Gingrich lends a somber air of credibility to the story. This could really happen, folks. And from page 1, the author tries to beat that truth home without dramatics, and with a good, healthy dose of survivalist know-how.
The story chronicles one community's struggle to survive the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse -- a nuclear bomb detonated high over the US soil that renders all modern technology useless in one second. The anonymous foe that provided the first strike is never really identified, adding credence to the atmosphere of not knowing that causes panic nationwide when cell phones, TV, radio, the Internet and all other communication devices are silenced forever.
The narrator, John, is a likeable guy and provides a great perspective of the events. He is a former Army officer, current military history professor, widower and father of two teenage girls. As a parent, his obvious priority is protecting his children, finding them food, securing their home and -- most dread-inducing -- going to whatever lengths necessary to try to keep his 12-year-old diabetic child alive without a reliable supply of insulin and refrigeration.
The book follows the events of the first year after the EMP, as people pull together to plant Victory Gardens to feed the town, fight bands of cannibalistic gangs bent on taking over the community and struggling in the daily fight to stay alive. It is a chilling view of how much we take for granted every single day.
This book made a huge impression on me. I actually had to take a few days to process the story before I could think about starting another story -- that doesn't happen often. Forstchen does a wonderful job of creating characters that the reader will care about, conceiving a surreal natinoal crisis that is all-too-real, and drawing attention to a threat to all of us that is almost to horrible to think about.
As a final note, I hope that this book doesn't fall into terrorist hands. That sounds melodramatic, but seriously. I think that people that hate our nation would read this book cackling with glee and chomping at the bit. (insert shiver here) [close]
I'm not really sure exactly I was expecting from this book, but I will say I liked it. It is a very simple book that I read in one day. The writing...let's just say it is what it is, not very good. But the story keeps you hooked and makes you want to keep reading. I don't pretend to know if this EMP scenario is even possible, but it makes for a thought provoking (what if) story. The premise is like King's The Stand or McCarthy's The Road, but the writing and editing is nowhere close to either. I read for entertainment and this book delivered. Right before I went to sleep last night I rolled over and asked my wife, "How long will canned food last in the basement". Makes you think, especially since my wife and daughter are both type 1 diabetics.
This was a great book to read! I was entertained and horrified at the same time. I wanted to go out and start stockpiling everything I could think of. I stood at my kitchen window one day and looking at my neighborhood, and I wondered which of my neighbors would survive? This book will stay with me for a long time.
This book wrecked me emotionally, which is not a state of mind I enjoy, but I am still glad I read the book. I am a fan of dystopic fiction, and have read many similar books - but they were similar only in the sense that something catastrophic has happened and the characters need to figure out how to deal with it. I can't say that I've actually read anything like this. I often hear it mentioned in the same breath as Rawles' "Patriots", although "Patriots" has completely different protagonists. While the folks in "Patriots" are uber-prepared and are pretty much there just to document the "here's how you do it" scenario, this book shows the consequences of a complete lack of preparation and a "dude you are SO SCREWED" scenario. There were many times I thought I could not bear to find out what happened next - I couldn't hardly take having to read about the difficult decisions they had to make and the sacrifices they made along the way, and the consequences of inaction/wrong action, and the extremely low survival rate of the characters you grow fond of. Several times I thought I couldn't finish the book - about the time the town leaders had a meeting to decide if they were going to issue an order to shoot all the pet dogs in the town to feed the starving residents - with protests in the meeting similar to "I can't shoot Rags! I've had him since he was a puppy! My kids love him!" - OH MAKE IT STOP! I think I would die before I would choose to survive in the way many of them did. I finished the book because I had to find out if anything got any better. I agree the ending was kind of rushed, but I'm glad to have finished the book and glad I didn't lose heart anywhere in the very difficult middle, or I'd likely never fall asleep dry-eyed again. I agree, this is a very important book with many important topics and great detail on how everything can go really, really wrong. Brace yourself.