An uplifting tale of family bonds amidst the end of the world.
I just finished the final book of the EMP Aftermath series by Grace Hamilton (Broken World through Lawless World). With their perfect mix of thrills, medicine, and family ties, I thoroughly enjoyed all six books in the series.
No power. No law & order. No safety net. The world as everyone knows it is over.
Laurel is stabilizing a patient in the ER when the power goes out. As she struggles to keep her patients alive, she faces an ugly truth—the world as everyone knew it is over. The smart thing to do is run and try to survive, but Laurel refuses to leave her patients behind—least of all her sick mother. There’s only one choice to make. She’ll have to stay and fight.
Bear is done fighting. War and PTSD have cost him everything—his job, his self-respect, and his wife – Laurel. But when he can no longer deny the old world is gone, he gains a new purpose. Laurel is hundreds of miles away from his mountain cabin, but he knows she needs him.
After so long being a lost solider, he finally has something worth fighting for. The highways are clogged with dead cars. Frantic survivors want his truck, his tools, his supplies. He’ll face treachery, desperation, and endless miles of unforgiving wilderness, but he’s going to find his wife. Together, they can survive anything.
He just has to reach her.
Plenty of EMP disaster books (including my own) feature families trying to reunite after being separated by the fall of society. One thing I appreciated about the Aftermath series was that it didn't rush the reunion. Each of the Peterson family members is given a chance to shine in their own parallel storylines. This helps to flesh them out as characters, giving each their own identities, challenges, and connections.
I'm going to focus on the first book in this review to avoid spoilers.
The story opens with Dr. Laurel Rivera trying to find her footing in a new hospital. South Minneha has all the latest tech, but it's of no use when an EMP renders it all useless. Laurel has to balance taking care of her patients, finding supplies, and navigating conflicts between the hospital staff (especially her sketchy boss, Robert). It isn't long before the hospital has to deal with external threats as well as internal ones. And through it all, Laurel fears for her family—including her mother, Deb, a strong-willed woman at South Minneha for cancer treatment.
Meanwhile, Laurel's estranged husband, Bear, is living off the grid in a remote cabin near the Canadian border. Once he realizes that an EMP has struck, he sets off to find Laurel. He's better prepared than most, but traveling cross-country with the world falling apart is perilous. On the way, Bear teams up with a spirited teenage orphan, Trent. Their interactions, and the bond they form, are one of the best parts of the story.
I enjoyed the hospital drama of the first book. The medicine aspects are handled well, with a plausibility on par with any Hollywood medical drama. The author also has a lot of experience with prepping, which shines through when the characters improvise solutions to the lack of technology.
I also liked the depiction of Bear dealing with hearing loss caused by an old war wound It felt like an earnest portrayal of his challenges, without being trite or gimmicky. I just would have preferred his PTSD get the same level of attention. It was supposedly so serious it led to him and Laurel splitting up, yet barely plays a role in the story.
Over the course of the series, the Petersons and their friends face a host of challenges—bandits and warlords, weather and illness. But through it all, the focus is on the characters and their relationships. I liked that they were all decent people you could root for, though they weren't without their flaws. Laurel is abrasive sometimes with the hospital staff; Bear has a tendency to rebuff help. The supporting characters get a lot of attention, including Bear's dog.
There are a few coincidental plot twists that strained my disbelief, but overall it's one of the better EMP disaster stories I've read.
- Princess Power:
- Bechdel Test: Pass