Book review for “One Second After”:
“One Year After” continues the story of John Matherson and the town of Black Mountain in North Carolina. This town actually exists, and is the author’s hometown. He used it as the setting in this book and his previous book “One Second After”. The entire country is still suffering the effects of EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attacks. There is no electric power, and almost no communication. About half the citizens have died from disease, contaminated water, lack of medicine, warfare, or starvation.
The key to returning to a normal life seems to lie in restoring electrical power. A small group of townsfolk are working on building a hydroelectric plant by the local dam. The progress is slow, as everything has to be made by hand, but it’s coming together. A primitive telephone system is in place, so there is some communication in town. Things are looking up – until the day that draft notices come to town. The notices are sent from a new federal agency claiming to be in charge of restoring law and order to areas of unrest around the country.
But is the Army Of National Recovery legitimate, or are they they just a power-hungry group trying to take over the country? There is really no way to confirm whether the ANR is from the government or not. And even if they are from the interim government, do they have the constitutional right to order citizens to perform military service?
In a situation such as described in this book, it becomes very difficult to tell who the good guys are, and who the bad guys are. Everyone is just trying to survive and keep their family and friends alive. People have to work together, but it’s not always easy to know who you can trust and work with. The author does a masterful job of showing the incredible difficulty of restoring a nation after an electromagnetic pulse attack.
Excerpt from page 18:
John’s brave new world had a grimy, battered edge to it. As a historian, he used to wonder what life 150 years earlier actually did smell like, look like, feel like. He was living it now, where a crowded room during a meeting on a warm spring evening had a distinctive musky, gamy smell to it, and folk who once wore jackets and ties or neatly pressed dresses now showed up in worn jeans and wrinkled, faded shirts. Sunday was the one day of the week when people did try to scrub up, though unless someone in the household was handy with an old-fashioned needle and thread, most wore suits and dresses several sizes too big. Their appearance made him think of the old daguerreotypes of a bygone era. It was rare to see someone overweight in those old photographs. Most had a lean, sinewy look, and their clothing, on close examination – except for the wealthy – a well-worn look.
His office in the town hall had that same worn feel to it. Gone were the scents of antiseptic scrubbing and buffing, brilliant fluorescent lights on day and night, fresh coffee from a machine that would take a dollar bill, air-conditioning in summer, and electric heat in winter. All of it done ever since the Day.