Forge Books, 2017, 348 pages
After defeating the designs of the alleged federal government, John Matherson and his community have returned their attention to restoring the technologies and social order that existed prior to the EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) attack. Then the government announces that it is ceding large portions of the country to China and Mexico. The Constitution is no longer in effect, and what's left of the US Army has been deployed to suppress rebellion in the remaining states.
The man sent to confront John is General Bob Scales, John's old commanding officer and closest friend from prewar days. Will General Scales follow orders, or might he be the crucial turning point in the quest for an America that is again united? As the dubious Federal government increasingly curtails liberty and trades away sovereignty, it might just get exactly what it fears: revolution.
I have read a lot of books in the post-apocalyptic survivalist sub-genre. These books, with a heavy emphasis on preppers, guns, and how soft Democrat-voting city folks all gonna die in a SHTF event, tend to be written by right-leaning authors. Their heroes are usually ex-military and own lots of guns. As compared to post-apocalyptic novels written by liberal authors, in which guns are a necessary tool but the heroes, who are more likely to be college kids, journalists, or ex-academics, were never into guns and clearly would prefer a world without them.
Right-wing authors usually make the left-wing government the bad guys. Left-wing authors usually make the right-wing government the bad guys. Of course it's the same government.
William Forstchen is of the first type, but he's not as glaringly political as some other writers of prepper-thriller fic. Still, the soapbox has gotten a bit higher with each book in this trilogy, so in The Final Day, in which we finally learn how the EMP that ended America's reign as global superpower happened, there is even more ranting about "elites," government bureaucrats, and finally, an unnamed but fairly obvious archetypal shrill, cowardly, power-hungry shrew as the chief government villain.
In the first book One Second After, John Matherson, a retired Army colonel and college professor in a small town in North Carolina, becomes the leader of his community after an EMP destroys the industrial infrastructure throughout North America and essentially triggers the apocalypse. In the sequel, One Year After, the inhabitants of Black Mountain had to fight off a local dictator who was actually a bureaucrat of the newly-formed "federal government."
In The Final Day, that federal government is now trying to secure its power, in a shaky world in which China has occupied the western half of North America, the BBC is now the voice of Radio Free Europe, and most major cities and many rural areas are still Mad Max hellholes. Black Mountain is slowly rebuilding; they are still always short on food and medicine, but they are starting to be self-sufficient, they have their own militia, and have even begun restoring basic electricity.
Matherson (who throughout the series has been written as a rather obvious author stand-in) is contacted by an old friend from the Pentagon, General Scales. Scales is now commander of the local region under the authority of the remaining federal government. He comes to Black Mountain under sketchy circumstances and warns Matherson that the government wants him arrested and put on trial and his community brought under control, by force if necessary.
Much of the book involves Matherson doubting Scales's motives and whether or not he is truly serving "the Constitution." The big question, in the climactic showdown, is which way the General will go. But it's pretty clear to the reader that the author has set up the feds-in-exile as the villains, which brings us to a few battle scenes, a confrontation in an underground bunker, and Hillary Clinton (not really Hillary Clinton, but obviously Hillary Clinton) screaming threats before getting taken down.
I enjoyed this trilogy for being a mostly realistic survivalist epic showing how fragile modern industrial civilization is, and what survival would be like for a world that grew up with highways, supermarkets, and social services to suddenly have all that taken away. However, if the first book was the author's warning about what he believes to be a genuine threat to American security (a high-yield EMP frying our entire infrastructure), the next two books mixed survivalist adventure with a lot of axe-grinding about FedGov (tm) and bureaucrats and elites and Hillary Clinton's email server. If you like these kinds of books, you will come to expect those sort of politics, and Forstchen isn't as bad as, say, John Wesley Rawles. But still, if you want nice lefty post-apocalyptic thrillers, stick to Stephen King.
Also by William Forstchen: My reviews of One Second After and One Year After.
My complete list of book reviews.