Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Jack Hunt has ascertained his status as one of the most prolific authors in the post-apocalyptic and hard science-fiction genres with over fifty novels to his name, and recently he has done so again by beginning a new series, After it Turns Dark, with the first novel titled When The World Turns Dark. The plot follows an older man in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and his daughter in Florida, as they are both forced to make difficult decisions when faced with the total chaos following an EMP pulse.
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Jack Hunt Brings the Darkness Upon the Earth
Our all-too-obvious overreliance on technology has opened up various new and exciting venues for mankind’s annihilation, the primary one being an event preventing the use of electricity. It’s no surprise EMP survival novels have tremendously risen in popularity over the past few years, and while many authors do have interesting topics to discuss, sorting the wheat from the chaff becomes increasingly difficult as the genre becomes saturated. Thankfully, Jack Hunt has been a steady and reliable voice in this realm, continuing his work with the recent publication of When The World Turns Dark.
Marking the beginning of a new series, titled After it Turns Dark, the novel begins by introducing us to a disabled veteran, John Sheridan, who decides to leave Florida, gripped by guilt and grief over the death of his daughter’s husband and son. Unable to face her, he decides to retire to the Black Hills of South Dakota, where he’s hoping to finalize the sale of his remote mountain cabin.
His plans for the future are fairly quaint and insignificant. With his eyesight slowly going away, he realizes this might be the last time he’ll enjoy himself out in the great outdoors and witness the biggest motorcycle rally in the world. However, all of his plans go astray when a local teenage girl breaks into his cabin, seeking safety from a world where power seems to be going out on an alarming scale.
Meanwhile, his daughter Laura is running through her own gauntlet of troubles in Florida. With the impending arrival of a massive hurricane, a statewide evacuation order is issued, one she can’t help but ignore due to her sole surviving son being missing. She vows to find him or die trying, but the world around her is rapidly plunging into total chaos and disarray, with a much greater threat looming on the horizon.
As they both suspect it, they’re not simply victims of some local power outages, but rather, at the mercy of an electromagnetic pulse, the origins of which suggest something incredibly sinister at work. When great nations thirst for power and wanton destruction, what can the little people do but hold on as desperately as they can, and simply survive the storm?
A Clear Understanding of People in When The World Turns Dark
Let’s be honest here for a moment, EMP survival thrillers are a dime a dozen these days, being the primary category attracting those looking to make a quick buck while riding the current trends. That is to say, many of the novels aren’t what I’d call true works of art, only seeking to fit themselves into a mould in hopes of being appreciated.
I’m saying all this because I think Jack Hunt has proven himself to be not a part of this clique, but rather, an author with an original vision and a genuine interest in the EMP scenario. How exactly does this manifest itself in his writing? While I can’t say I’ve read all of his novels (I do recommend the EMP Survival Series, particularly Days of Chaos), in the case of When The World Turns Dark, it’s manifested in the characters.
Jack Hunt‘s primary focus, the way I see it, seems to be the study of human psychology, to understand what drives people, to try and figure out how they would react to various scenarios. It seems to me he has a rather profound image of each and every character he brings into the story, even if he doesn’t describe them to a matching extent.
One of my primary gripes with novels in this genre is the way in which characters behave, often being clearly manipulated to suit the needs of the story or the author’s personal desires. With Jack Hunt, I always have the impression as if the story is crafted around the characters and their actions, almost as if it was forming along naturally as a result of their existence.
Each and every person we encounters, in my opinion, behaves in a realistic and understandable manner, and I never once felt like I had to suspend my disbelief for the sake of the novel. We get to see entire gamut of possible reactions to the disaster, and the author has visibly honed his ability to depict human drama in a detailed, precise and enlightening manner, mirroring mankind’s potential future quite well in my opinion.
Chaos Under a Magnifying Glass
While the characters might be the main focus from where I’m looking, one can’t escape the fact we do most of our learning about them through their actions and the conditions they are forced to overcome time and time again. In other words, the novel isn’t bogged down by static descriptions, taking the approach of showing rather than telling.
The pace is fairly brisk and doesn’t vary much from start to finish, with Jack Hunt seldom dawdling on unimportant matters for the mere sake of extending the text or reaching a word count. Each and every paragraph in When The World Turns Dark feels necessary, if not important, to the overall composition of the story, moving us onward towards greater and more shocking revelations. Also, as improbably as it might sound, the novel doesn’t end on a cliffhanger despite being the first in a series, and that’s worth a lot of points in my book.
The stakes are also managed quite skillfully I might add, with the author constantly keeping us aware of what might happen to our characters should they fail in the tasks ahead of them. As we get deeper and deeper into the story they do rise proportionally, to the point where I can’t help but wonder how much higher they could be raised in the sequel.
One of the primary reasons, I believe, as to why they feel so gripping, is just how close the author takes us to the suffering his characters are going through, to the chaos on the ground they are forced to contend with. He has an astute mind for thinking of the little details most other writers would miss, and when he’s constantly forcing the reader face-first into one of the darkest and most desperate moments experienced by mankind, there’s little choice left but to become totally captivated by it.
Jack Hunt‘s technical descriptions are also praise-worthy, and I feel they should be addressed because after all, this is, to a notable extent, a hard science-fiction novel. He has obviously become adept over the course of his career at explaining complicated technological elements in layman’s terms and illustrating them in a manner easy to visualize, which makes the “fiction” elements that much more believable (there is one which I didn’t find very realistic, but I think we can let one single flaw slide).
|318||Independently published||Jan. 10 2022||979-8799188047|
The Final Verdict
When The World Turns Dark by Jack Hunt is a fantastic launch to a welcome new series from an author who has proven his tremendous skills time and time again, a blend of hard science-fiction and post-apocalyptic EMP survival. From the immersive technical descriptions and revealing psychological portraits to the fast-paced action and believable world-building, this novel doesn’t stumble even for a second.
If you’re looking for a new EMP novel, are looking for a top-of-the-line hard sci-fi novel, or are a fan of Jack Hunt and looking to expand your collection, then I think you’ll tremendously enjoy all this book has to offer.
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.