Released: September 1, 2011. First released August 1, 2011.
Copy Owned: Kindle Edition
Hirsch starts the book with the death of what would seem to be one of the more prominent, even though inactive, characters of the story.
P-11 or the eleventh plague had been unleashed years before by the Chinese (interesting lol) during another infamous war. The plague sounds more like an extreme flu virus, but it seems to have done it's job, infecting and wiping out the world's population little by little.
Grandpa, an inactive yet ominous presence in the book, had just been buried, another victim to the plague. We never got to know Grandpa in his physical state, but the book eludes to his personality and attitude constantly to the point where you feel as if he's still in it. A former marine, we read about what his rules of survival were. Everyone is an enemy. Don't get involved in outside problems, because you have your own problems to deal with. Don't use what you can trade. If I read correctly, he wasn't shy with his rants and slaps, either.
Dad is the opposite in mannerisms. The plague might've made his father more of a hard-ass than he might've been otherwise, but Dad was still a Dad. Dad still had enough humanity in him, which eventually ended up being the cause of his exit from the story. He's one of those characters that you don't really get to know before he exits, but you see enough to realize he was a good guy. He was someone that wasn't tainted despite the world's going down the crapper.
Stephen is our main character. Our narrator. The lone survivor of his immediate family.
It's during one of their salvaging missions where things go awry. Slavers, said to typically be ex-military/government people, move through in close proximity. Stephen and his father notice they have a woman and her son in tow, shackled. Stephen, knowing what Grandpa would say, wants to let it go. Dad has other plans...his own plans. He can't let a mother and child go without trying to help.
Yeah, that's the kind of man Dad was...and that's what kicked off Dad's getting injured.
What pissed me off here was that he had good intentions. Noble ones. Stephen went along against his better judgement, and the woman not only ran off, but showed no signs of any gratitude...nor did she even attempt to help those that saved her.
Dad cracks his head, Stephen cracks a nut.
I don't know...at first Stephen sort of irked me, seeming selfish and always referring to what Grandpa would say or do. It was like he was brainwashed, but when I look back, it's how Grandpa kept them alive for so long. What Grandpa would say or do was Stephen's second nature and we see how he both hated it but relied on it.
Dad gets injured running from the slavers and Stephen's left taking on the role of caretaker. He drags his father's limp body to a little covey, tends to his wounds as best he can, and sets out to get their belongings back...beating himself up about how stupid the entire situation was.
What was that? He hears a rustle...hears voices...are there more slavers?
No...but Grandpa's way is to shoot now and ask questions later...which Stephen does.
Down goes a blonde mound. Stephen takes another aim at the strangers, cause apparently Grandpa taught him to be an anybody-killer...when he hears steps behind him and turns just in time to get clobbered over the head.
Oops, they weren't slavers, what was he thinking?
He comes to, hands bound and faced by strangers. They seem as shaken as he is...they don't seem that bad, but Grandpa said...
First act of kindness. They don't punish him for shooting the annoying presence that was lucky enough to survive. They let him live. Second act of kindness. They give him a choice to come along. Third act of kindness, they give him ammo when he refuses.
From this point on, Stephen see's a different world. A world so different from his own, one he's not sure he can be a part of, one he doesn't know if he can be a part of.
Needless to say, this is where all the good stuff comes in. The stuff that keeps you reading until you're done. I won't go into that because I already told so much, I know I didn't have a spoiler alert written, but gahhh, if you think that's the exciting stuff, you're wrong. There's more.
What I really loved about this book is how realistic and down to earth the characters are. I can envision the people as they were written, doing what they're written to do. I don't read many books in this genre because it's usually the opposite. It's either too doom and gloom to where you don't want to read any more...or it's too over the top. I found this story to have a little bit of everything, yet keeping it's realism firm.
Would I recommend it? I sure would. I recommend it to anyone that simply enjoys reading a good book. You don't have to be a fan of any specific genre to enjoy a book like this. It's the future without cyborgs and laser guns, yet it's still current, with the desires to make the world what it once was.
5 star rating. I think I've said enough to confirm why.