**WARNING** Minor spoilers below.
When it comes to pure entertainment, I enjoyed this yarn about a guy trying to make it home to his family. However, I did take issue with many aspects of this story line. I'll address them and try not to make too big of a deal about them, but potential readers, IMHO, need to be aware of them.
The author depicts the protagonist (Jack Lee) as being in the mountains outside LA when several nuclear detonations occur...along with many others up and down the west coast. It is portrayed that Jack is looking at the bright light from the blast as the first detonation occurs. He sees the results of the devastation to Los Angeles. Here's where I have a problem with this part of the story, from the first three or four pages.
The author doesn't say how big a yield these nuclear detonations are, but later depicts them as very large. The author also doesn't state exactly how far away Jack is from LA, just that he is in the mountains hiking when this occurs. Even so, Jack should have experienced, at a minimum, 'flash blindness' from looking directly at the bright light of detonation. This would have resulted in being blinded for at least 40 minutes to an hour, depending on how long he gazed at the light. What could also occur is that Jack could have received permanent retina burn. Furthermore, again, depending on exactly how far away Jack was, he could have also received a heavy dose of gamma radiation and/or thermal burns and been dead within days. Even if Jack were 40 miles away and looking down on LA as the detonations occurred, at a minimum, he would have received flash blindness by looking at the bright light of detonation. This did not occur and was not realistic nor logical that Jack was unscathed and not injured by what the author depicted.
Why make an issue out of this? Because the author is implying in this story that it is okay to look at the bright light of detonation from a nuclear bomb...which is something no one should ever do. If one is close enough to see the devastation of what a nuclear detonation just did to a major city, then logic and common sense would, or should, tell you that you are way too close to look at the light and watch it, let alone not be affected by the blastwave that came.
Another part of this story I question is the EMP aspect. Although there will be some electromagnetic pulse charge from a ground detonation from a nuclear device, it will not be as great in a huge geographical area such as depicted or portrayed in this story. However, if the detonation is an airburst five miles above an area, then an EMP would better fit the scenario stated. The higher the airburst, the more effect an EMP will have over a wider geographical area. But this is not what is presented in this story.
The entire nuclear detonations were just not realistic in the way it was presented, nor was it believable in that Jack survived without any kind of injury.
Jack begins walking home to NY. For the first three to six days, he sees absolutely no one else. This made no sense whatsoever. I had to ask myself, 'was Jack the only person hiking in the mountains that day?' The first town he comes across is deserted...no one around. This made no sense either. Why would hundreds of people just up and disappear? In all fairness to the author, he does explain this later on, but in reality, I don't believe this would have ever happened. Thousands of people are not going to outrun radioactive fallout. Which brings me to my next issue with the story.
By the authors own writing, he portrays Jack walking in the dust borne air that is so thick it blocks out the sun. One must conclude the author is depicting radioactive fallout. For days Jack is being subjected to this fallout by being outside...exposed to the residule dust and debris of a nuclear detonation. Eventually, he comes across Nick who invites him to his farmhouse where there are 20 more people. Within hours, people are dying left and right...eventually leaving only three people who are "immune" to radiation sickness. Here's where I called the BS flag. There is no way 20 people under the same roof, receiving the same or more exposure, are not going to succumb to radiation sickness. And yet, three of them are magically immune and never get sick. Sorry...just not going to happen. Especially when those three have been severly exposed just as much as those who died were. Not logical nor believable. If an author is going to project these kind of things in a story, then there should, at a minimum, be some sort of factual documentation backing up their position to make the scenario believable and plausible.
The next thing that really threw me off in this story was the ending of Chapter 6 and going into Chapter 7. I had to stop and go back and re-read Ch. 6 to make sure I didn't miss something. I also thought I had missing chapters, but that was not the case. By the end of Ch. 6, Jack had been walking for several months, but within the first several pages of Ch. 7, the story had advanced two years ahead. I thought...WHAT! From several months to two years later? Absolutely no transition, no idea about what Jack had been doing or what he had gone through in the past year and eight months or so. I ended up wasting 20 minutes of backreading to figure out just what the author had done here. It was rather wierd. By the end of Ch. 7 I was back into the flow of the story. The questions for me that came out of all this were;
What happened to the .22 pistol and the ammo Jack gained from the farmhouse? When did he lose that? Why did Jack choose to only carry a machete as his only weapon for two years? After two years on the road, he still had not made it to NY and his family. Why? What were all the hold ups? And, to top it all off, Jack didn't know where in the U.S. he even was. There was a lot of disconnect within the flow of this story. Not that these took away from the story itself, it just became a distraction due to loose ends not being tied up or explained.
Once I passed the halfway mark in this story, it began to pick up speed and there was a lot more intense action. Surprisingly, the reader becomes aware of just how skilled a fighter Jack is. I wondered why the author didn't portray this part of Jack's character from the beginning instead of waiting until halfway through the book to depict Jack for what he could really do.
The last quarter of the book was predictable, yet still entertaining. It wasn't hard to figure out just how the story was going to end. Everything is wrapped up neat and nice.
The author ended this story with the possibility of a sequel, or he could leave it alone and let it be the book that it is. Either way would suffice for me. Would I purchase a sequel to this book? Yeah...I believe I would. This author has potential to be a great story teller. Like I mentioned, it was entertaining, kept me turning the pages and I don't regret purchasing this book, although I don't believe it should be a $5.00 entry level book. IMHO, this book is a $2 or $3 dollar book. Just the way I see it...others may look at it differently.
I don't really get overly nitpicky with most of my reviews; however, this is one story where prospective buyers need to have some insight to what they are getting for their money so that they can make an informed decision as to whether it will be a waste or not. If one chooses to buy this book, I have no doubt you'll enjoy it for what it is...entertaining fiction. One will just need to suspend reality in some portions of the read and accept the story for what it is.
Being thousands of miles from home is always a daunting prospect, but at the apocalypse it’s astronomically unthinkable. Jack Lee was just outside L.A. when the most devastating war the world has ever seen began. He was also there when it ended, over in almost an instant. Jack survived the attack, but he was on the other side of the country from his wife and son. Not knowing if his family are still alive, Jack sets out on the long journey home, his legs his only mode of transport. To get back to his family he has to survive, but he doesn’t yet know the dangers that are waiting in front of him.
About the Author
D. M. Baillie was born and raised in Glasgow. After High School, he went on to study Aerospace Engineering at Glasgow University before entering the Aerospace Industry as an Aircraft Design Engineer. The author of two books, Time To Kill and Zero hour, he is now looking to write his third novel. To keep up to date with the latest developments visit www.dmbaillie.com for more information.