Friday, December 17, 2010

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

When the power goes out in picturesque Black Mountain, North Carolina, John Matherson knows exactly what happened. A history professor and former military officer, John has read the reports of what an EMP attack would look like, he knows immediately that the United States will never be the same. EMP is an electromagnetic pulse that wipes out of all America's power grid. Electricity, phones, and all cars built before the 1980's are rendered completely useless, thereby crippling the country. Left to protect his two daughters and lead the small town to reform itself into a hunter/gatherer society, John must gather all his strength and knowledge to make the hard decisions that will keep his town alive. Food and medicine rationing, martial law, and battle strategies become daily decisions alongside the everyday duties of being a father. One Second After is a cautionary tale of the all too true consequences of not being prepared for this type of attack.

This book is thought provoking and moving. Forstchen tackles the questions you pray you never have to answer, and the ones you would never even imagine. One Second After looks closely at how comfortable America has become and what would happen to us if someone decided to prey directly on our complacency. I found that throughout the book I agreed with the decisions John makes, though at times I wondered if I would have the strength to do the same. One Second After is described as an apocalyptic novel but at the heart of it, this is really a book about what it truly means to be an American, to love your neighbor and your country, to find strength in your faith and family, and ultimately the resilience of the human race.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

When Jacob Jankowski hopped a train to run away from a family tragedy, he couldn't have imagined the world in which he would find himself. He soon learns that the train is that of the Benzini Brothers Traveling Circus. An almost graduate of veterinary school, he is put in charge of the welfare of the menagerie. Jacob makes a few friends and quite a few enemies on the fateful journey. At the heart of the book is a love story between Jacob and one of the star performers, who happens to be married to a paranoid schizophrenic animal trainer that can't decide if he wants to kill Jacob or love him like a brother. Water for Elephants tells the story of Jacob's time with the circus and all the oddities that life brings. Taking place during the depression era, the story is vivid, beautiful, surprising, and at times sad.

Water for Elephants is one of the best books I have read in quite a while. It is absolutely riveting. Sara Gruen does such an excellent job of engrossing the reader in the story, there were times I was sure I could smell the popcorn and wild animals. I was so glad to hear this book is being made into a movie. The description of the circus and all the colorful characters was so visual it will lend itself perfectly to the big screen.