Resuming Jack Hunt’s Apocalypse
The end of the world might come in many shapes and sizes, and our fear as to how it might occur is generally shaped by the times we live in. While in the early days people feared fire and brimstone raining down from the heavens, today our concerns are largely shaped by our undeniable dependency on technology. We could hardly get by from one day to the next without electricity at this point, making it a ripe source of inspiration for Jack Hunt’s EMP Survival Series. In the first book he introduced us to our four protagonists caught in the midst of a massive EMP attack, with the entire country being left without a grid. They managed to fight their way out of the chaos consuming New York City and against all odds have made their way to Lake Placid, where things are a bit calmer. In this second book of the series, titled Days of Chaos , our heroes take on new challenges in trying to establish some sort of life in this new world order.
Of course, establishing and maintaining any kind of order in Lake Placid is much easier said than done with things being in their current state. For starters, there is a string of murders taking place which raises people’s suspicions of each other ever higher. There are gangs of looters and raiders roaming the wild, threatening to have their way with the village, a problem which will have to be contended with sooner or later. Also, as is with any society reduced to a tribal state, sides are beginning to form and the uninvolved will only be able to maintain their neutrality for so long. An ugly struggle for survival is on the horizon, and the true darkness deep within the human soul is about to seep out into the open, begging for the question as to who the real enemy is in the whole ordeal.
While I would highly recommend you read the first book, Days of Panic, before engaging in this one, I don’t feel it’s absolutely necessary. The two books deal with clearly different aspects and stages of an EMP apocalypse, and if this one interests you far more than its predecessor you can still pick it up and enjoy it. You will have a bit of a hard time getting acquainted with the characters and miss out on some interesting developments, but overall it won’t stop you from being engaged and entertained. I do still recommend the first book, just for how well written and believable the plot was.
A New Society is Forming
One of the main appeals of the previous book for me was witnessing people’s reactions to the loss of a grid, the many ways in which their panic manifested itself and forced them to act in ways they hadn’t considered before. What made these factors so special was the author’s ability to make it all believable without any doubts or second thoughts. If it wasn’t for the narration there would be times when you’re forgetting the book is an actual novel rather than a historical account of some kind. This quality of the first book certainly applies to this second one as well, and this time around what we witness is the formation of a new society in the wake of unimaginable catastrophe.
Lake Placid makes for an engrossing setting for this story to develop, a relatively small community but still sizable enough to present problems on an organizational scale. We follow the different townsfolk as they all not only attempt to make the best of these new lives they are forced to live, but also starting to reshape a microcosm of this world into one of their own.
The thirst for power is beginning to manifest itself and many people are shedding their humanity in favour of obeying the laws of the jungle. The new dynamics in play are quite believable and even make us wonder on what end of the spectrum we would fall upon in these circumstances. I’d say this novel is as much of a character study as it story-driven.
Action at the End of the World
Even while turning this book into a profound study of the human condition, Jack Hunt manages to keep alive an exhilarating plot with plenty of action and unexpected twists which make it very clear no one is ultimately safe in the new world. The villains feel rightfully deprived of any morality and the danger they represent is crushing and omnipresent. While I will admit at times their villainous ambitions edge on the comical and ridiculous, there are very few such moments and ultimately they end up working as welcome moments of comic relief. After all, just because human civilization is collapsing into a dog-eat-dog world it doesn’t mean humor has to die as well.
With the combination of a fast pace, character studies and plot stretched far and wide, I feel Hunt overlooked the opportunity to explore a bit more profoundly the details and logistics in regards to the survival of a small town for two weeks, especially with all food delivery systems being compromised. It would have been nice to have more information on how the citizens managed to work around the various problems they were presented with. However, this is really personal opinion as I truly enjoy technical examinations of these sorts of scenarios. Objectively speaking there was nothing wrong with the author’s choice of favouring entertainment over explanations.
The Final Verdict
The second book certainly lives up to the first one and continues the story in a fresh and interesting direction making it stand out in the series as a creation of its own rather than a cog in a larger mechanism. It has engaging characters, an exciting story and definitely some thought-provoking examinations of the human mind and soul under extreme duress. I highly recommend this book if you enjoyed the first one or are simply into post-apocalyptic fiction with a penchant for realism.