Plume, 2012, 480 pages
If society collapsed, could you survive?
When Morgan Carter's car breaks down 250 miles from his home, he figures his weekend plans are ruined. But things are about to get much, much worse: The country's power grid has collapsed. There is no electricity, no running water, no Internet, and no way to know when normalcy will be restored - if it ever will be.
An avid survivalist, Morgan takes to the road with his prepper pack on his back. During the grueling trek from Tallahassee to his home in Lake County, chaos threatens his every step but Morgan is hell-bent on getting home to his wife and daughters - and he'll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
Fans of James Wesley Rawles, William R. Forstchen's One Second After, and The End by G. Michael Hopf will revel in A. American's apocalyptic tale.
I seem to be on a survivalist reading kick lately, enjoying various books about TEOTWAWKI scenarios. One thing that quickly becomes apparent is that survivalist books and those who write them tend to be of a particular political bent. It is stronger in some than in others, but let's just say there are not a lot of people voting for Obama who write books about how the government is going to collapse and the key to survival is stashing guns and silver.
"A. American" is clearly making a statement with the very choice of his (yes, could be "her" but how likely is that?) pseudonym. Going Home seems intended to be a wake-up call of sorts, but the author doesn't really get up on a soapbox until the end.
Instead, the first part of the book is about Morgan Carter's trip home after an EMP device shuts down his car and the power grid. He is in rural Florida when it happens — setting survivalist novels in Florida or North Carolina seems to be awfully popular. Certainly it's easier to explain someone carrying a gun around, as opposed to a survivalist novel set in New York or Maryland.
Morgan Carter is a prepper, and the chapters with Morgan are narrated from a first-person POV, so he goes into great detail describing the contents of his bug-out bag, the equipment he has, his survival tactics as he begins hiking home. Later he meets up with a naive college girl, another shotgun-toting survivor named Thad (obligatory Big Black Friend), and then some ex-army guys, and the novel becomes a little disjointed as it alternates between their viewpoints as they go their separate ways.
Mostly there is a lot of talk about gear and prepper basics, obviously intended to enlist the audience's interest. There are some deadly encounters with the usual sorts of low-lives whom you'd expect to turn orc when the grid goes down. As a survival story, it's not quite as compelling as One Second After or Alas, Babylon or Dies the Fire because all those books (besides being somewhat better written) are about the survival of communities, whereas Going Home is mostly a collection of individual survival stories. However, it does illustrate some of the issues an individual might have, being caught on one's own in a SHTF scenario, though the author makes it a lot easier for his protagonists by letting them all start out heavily armed.
Now, as I noted, a certain mistrust of the government and antipathy for dependent city-dwellers is at the core of most of these survivalist novels. "A. American" keeps this in check for most of the book, with Morgan making only a few comments now and then about screwed the unprepared are going to be and the observation that people turn "collectivist" awfully fast when they run out of stuff.
The end of the book, however, reveals who the true culprits behind the EMP device were. Well, President Obama is never mentioned by name, but let's just say this is a book that will appeal to those who believe in the NWO's black helicopters and FEMA camps.
Verdict: An interesting read, if you don't mind your fiction laced with prepper fearmongering. Going Home is part survivalist fantasy, mildly educational, and definitely written with an agenda, but as a story it's inferior to the better TEOTWAWKI novels out there.
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