I have never liked The Acapocalypse; it’s always seemed so… final. By extension, I don’t like post-apocalyptic science fiction. I did, however, Bobby Akart’s first novel, Zero 36 Hours, a try since it was set in the nearby (to me) town of Nashville and involved characters that were pretty much in my own demographic (although the family was more conservative and religious than I am). But, the price was right: free. And to the author’s credit, I was left wanting to read more about the family and their plight.
So I bought the sequel. And, well… yeah.
The second book of The Blackout Series picks up where 36 Hours left off, with the world having been plunged into darkness by a solar flare. The first novel did a fantastic job of building suspense and endearing you to the normal (if affluent) American family that has to suddenly become doomsday preppers. Here in this second novel, their prepping has paid off a little too well: The HOA of their neighborhood finds out about their supplies and threatens to loot them to share the goods. Colton, Madison and Alex do a good job of thwarting their antagonists, and even get on the good side of the HOA, which seems to have become the de facto government of their suburban Nashville neighborhood. Things get a little weird toward the end, though, when the neighborhood has to fight off a looters coming from Nashville proper. The looters were Black, a gang from Nashville proper. I have to admit, that gave me pause: Why bother injecting race into the novel? Why couldn’t they have simply been a gang? There was no character development, so their race had no bearing on their part of the story; they were simply there to shoot at the family’s neighborhood. I found that weird.
So it’s hard to review either of these novels without saying a word about the author’s constant injection of his conservative political beliefs, which seem to be rooted in the suffocating conservatism of the 1950s. While Akart certainly has plausible deniability by writing in an intimate 3rd person POV, it’s not hard to guess where Akart falls on the political spectrum: He loves the military (the government) but hates FEMA (also the government). During 36 Hours, I found this aspect of the story amusing. I even guffawed once. After all, there are lots of conservative families in the affluent areas of Nashville, so it made sense. But as the story continues in Zero Hour, this kind of politicking becomes tiresome.
To Akart’s credit, though, he was able to craft three solid characters that I cared about. And he created a scenario that is unbelievably frightening if you stop and think about it. It’s one of those “end of the world” scenarios that I would seriously wonder whether I would want to survive <shudder>. Nonetheless, the suspense was good, but not as good as its predecessor. I’ll give it 5 out of 10.