Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Literally the Best Reviews: Ember

Ember -- Brock Adams
Hub City Press
318 Pages

Post-apocalyptic novels always intrigue me, especially if they’re well written and have something just a little bit different than the normal fare in that genre. Immediately, I think of the novels by James Dashner and Suzanne Collins. Those novels set new tones of the apocalypse that were significant diversions from the books we’ve seen since The Time Machine or On the Beach. The debut novel by Brock Adams, Ember, sets off in another whole new direction.

In this novel, the sun has suddenly begun to die. In its waning light and power, the world is thrown into mass chaos. It snows every month of the year, and even in the Deep South of America, the temperatures rarely climb out of the 50s. The sun, in its dying, gloomy glow, has been relegated to being referred to simply as “the ember.”

All the nations of the Earth who have nuclear missiles have come to a determination that maybe firing all their weapons into the sun may restart the star’s nuclear core once again. In a show of solidarity, they fire everything they have at the sun. It is the last point of any cohesive leadership in the country. When it’s obvious that this last-ditch effort has failed, all ties to orderly governing melt away. It is every person for themselves.

Guy and his wife, Lisa, need to learn to fend for themselves as all authority breaks down and bandits take over. When Guy goes back into danger to save his mistress, Lisa is thrown for a loop. Despite her anger, and mutual distrust, the three of them must work together to assure their very survival. What follows is very character-centric, in a unique way.

The novel is separated into several sections, each focusing on one of the characters from their own points of view. This allows the reader to look at the same events through separate eyes. Each character has their own set of sensibilities and abilities which will propel them forward in their quest.

The question becomes who to trust. Are new friends actually friends? Or, are they wolves lying in wait? It becomes a matter of chooses sides. Which side will be the best for each person? It’s a decision that everyone needs to make, and may separate friends and family. Even the most non-confrontational people will have to take up arms to make it through the long winter.

While I believe the science in this book may be a bit of a stretch, the development of the characters more than makes up for that. Each of the three main characters is well thought out and have very distinct voices in the narrative. Each have their own goals and aspirations and their decisions are influenced by them. Each character’s strengths are on full display in their quest for survival.

The battle between the “good” and the “bad” is a familiar fare, seen in books in and out of the post-apocalyptic novels. At some points, the scenes echo some of the later moments of Steven King’s The Stand. At the same time, there is a bit of freshness. Between the slight feeling of familiarity and new paths forged, the reader will feel quite at home reading this book. It is interesting enough, even in its familiar parts to want to find out what happens to humanity as the world dies.

Ember is Brock Adams’ first novel. I’m sure it will not be his last. If there are more books forthcoming from Adams, I’m sure I will be reading them, especially if he continues to flirt with a new look at both post-apocalyptic and science-fiction stories.

Craig Bacon is somewhat prepared in case the world ends. He doesn’t have a “bug-out bag.” He has a wing and a prayer.