Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Jack Hunt has evidently dedicated a fair bit of his time to thinking about various apocalyptic scenarios which might befall our society, in the second book of the After it Turns Dark series, titled When Humanity Ends, he takes a deeper dive into the social ramifications of a post-EMP America. More precisely, Hunt continues the story of Laura and her son Charlie on their journey out of Florida, and John Sheridan in his attempts to defend his home in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Table of contents
Jack Hunt Twists the Spiral of Destruction Further
Humanity’s progress in the last couple of centuries is nothing short of staggering, and despite everything we’ve managed to achieve, we haven’t been able to escape one terrifying flaw: it all relies on electricity. Take it away from us, and most of our possessions turn into expensive paperweights, not to mention an entirely new world would start to take place, as is the case in Jack Hunt‘s When Humanity Ends.
With this being the second book in the After it Turns Dark series, the sensible thing to do would be to go back and read the first instalment, especially since it tells one continuous story. Nevertheless, if for some reason you’re dead set on skipping When the World Turns Dark, I think you can still enjoy and follow this novel with ease, barring a few early moments spent to orient yourself.
To begin with, there’s Laura who finally managed to reunite with her son at the end of the previous book, now stuck in Florida as it heads towards further disaster. A third attack on the country causes massive shock-waves to travel through the earth, prompting devastating earthquakes to shatter the land. Laura is still hoping they can reach her brother Tommy in Tennessee, but she isn’t the only survivor willing to do all it takes to stay alive.
At the other end of the country, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, John Sheridan is dead-set on defending his homestead, come what may. Unfortunately for him, countless rival motorcycle clubs turned up for the biggest rally in the world, and they aren’t exactly being friendly with the law enforcement representatives.
The dynamics of the country are rapidly shifting as people adapt to the apocalyptic state of affairs around them, and while survival becomes the main concern for some, others see the glint of opportunity in the storm of chaos. With trust an increasingly rare commodity and allegiances frailer than ever, the only remaining guarantee is the suffering of many.
The Evil Dweller in When Humanity Ends
From what I’ve personally seen, most authors who tackle the subject of the apocalypse tend to come out with stories focusing more on creating epic adventures than anything else. While there is certainly a large place for this sort of literature, personally-speaking, I’ve always preferred authors such as Jack Hunt for his propensity to make human psychology a central element in his story.
The first time around he took us on a long and detailed tour of the various reactions people might have to an EMP apocalypse, that is to say, in the few days following the event. In When Humanity Ends, he presents us to people who are still very much shaken up, but are starting to settle into the new reality they inhabit.
One of the more prominent and interesting topics Jack Hunt explores is the idea of everyone have this sort of evil dweller within, one who can be pried to the surface no matter how kind and compassionate a person might be. Though I suppose there still remains room for debate as to how many of us would give up our personal values in the face of total despair, it seems Jack Hunt leans towards saying the answer is most of us.
While following both Laura and John, we are consistently shown how various secondary characters deal with whatever lot they were given, and on more than one occasion we see just how strong of a drive desperation can be, and how terribly it can corrupt even the purest soul. Whether or not you personally agree with him, he certainly makes a good case for it, one which, in my opinion, works in the book’s favour.
What’s more, because these situations are depicted with such realism and the characters affected by them so realistic, I couldn’t help but partially think of this book as having some elements of true horror to it. Ultimately, we can’t help but ask ourselves how we would behave in such a situation should it come to pass, because technically-speaking, it actually could.
The Threads of Armageddon
The dissection of human psychology might be an important, and even central theme in this book, but it’s not as if Jack Hunt spends chapters, or even paragraphs on end droning about it through exposition. Rather, he naturally weaves it all into the numerous stories we get to follow, each one bringing to the table something remarkable of its own.
Personally, I enjoyed John Sheridan’s story more than the other ones, delving into a fascinating little microcosm of reality with unpredictable consequences in the face of total annihilation. Seeing all the deadly drama unfold between law enforcement and the bikers with John stuck in the middle of it all, simply trying to keep his home safe, makes for some quality entertainment, almost making the story feel like a complex thriller at times.
There are plenty of other plot threads, each with their own merits, and I believe they serve as perfect foils to the story becoming stale. We never overstay our welcome in any given place, and we simply don’t have time to get bored with anything because there’s always something new, exciting and mysterious on the horizon.
Jack Hunt even tries to dive a little deeper into the science behind what’s happening in When Humanity Ends, explaining how exactly the various attacks are disrupting the country, taking care to ensure they largely stay in the realm of realism. While a couple of elements do still feel like they stem from the realm of science-fiction, the idea it might not be the case in the future is frightening enough on its own.
I think this hard science-fiction angle really helps to make the book complete… that is to say, I can’t think of anything I’d want to add or remove from it. The way I see it, the key to making an apocalyptic or disaster novel resonate with the reader is making it believable and scientifically-plausible. Few prospects are more terrifying than imaginary nightmares spilling over into reality.
|308||Independently published||Feb. 11 2022||979-8416071028|
The Final Verdict
When Humanity Ends by Jack Hunt is a magnificent sequel to the first book in the series, elevating it further by offering a perfect mix of believable human drama, entertaining plot lines, and a realistic scientific background to make it all coalesce firmly.
If you’re a fan of the first book in the series, of the author in general, or are simply looking for a truly moving story centred on a well-constructed apocalyptic scenario, then I strongly suggest you give this book some attention.
Jack Hunt is a bestselling American author whose works have mainly revolved in the domains of horror and posy-apocalyptic fiction. Some of his better-known works include Days of Panic, Darkest Hour, The Wild Ones and Strain.