Saturday, February 8, 2014

Undeniable Rule of Three

When the power goes out for a few days, we get a real taste for how dependent we are on our technology, but if all technology crashed... and there was no end in sight? Then we would really witness just how thin our veneer of civilization truly is. In Eric Walters' The Rule of Three, suburban America gets a makeover it never asked for. 

When Adam's school releases the students after a power failure, he hops into his old jalopy to pick up his kid brother and sister. It starts right up (which is a miracle), but as he scans around the parking lot, he sees a lot of cars that won't start. In fact, all the new, computerized cars are completely dead. When he gets home, he is surprised to find the entire neighborhood without any power- even cellphones, laptops, cars, etc. that should run in a blackout are down. When his neighbor, Herb, comes to his house, he is skeptical of Herb's need for an emergency trip to the pool store... especially since Herb doesn't even have a pool! Quickly, however, Herb's decision to stockpile chlorine tablets becomes the start of a whole new way of living: pure survival.

As the local police captain, Adam's mother has a lot more responsibility on her shoulders than the rest of the neighborhood, but her trust in Herb, even if she doesn't fully know the extent of his involvement in the government before his retirement, gives her the opportunity to take care of her precinct knowing her kids are safe at home. Herb knows things are going to get ugly, though. And fast. When he starts sharing more and more of his useful knowledge about how to protect themselves and prepare for longterm survival, not everyone is comfortable with his decisions. What they can't deny, however, is just how different their world has become. And in a ruthless world like this, there are tough decisions to be made if anyone is going to survive. 

I read a couple of reviews of this book after I finished it, and I was actually surprised so many people thought it was so derivative. Yes, I mean, we can't deny the deluge of disaster books out there anymore than we can deny the existence of a bazillion supernatural tales on the shelves, but still, I thought this was a really good book with some key surprises that made it even better than I originally thought it was going to be. For instance, Herb is your typical ex-"Black Ops" (or so they assume- he never tells!) government retiree who just happens to know how to survive a disaster. Convenient? Yep. Stereotypical? You would think so, but there is more to Herb than meets the eye. Instead, he is actually very keen on negotiations and finding ways to defuse the situation in a way that is mutually beneficial for everyone. In addition, he is willing to admit his notions might not be the best way. Even though he knows survival, he is willing to admit the cold heartless reality of their new world can truly be mitigated by friendship and a sense of community. And all that comes from his time with Adam. Usually you have the youngster learn from the old, wise man, but here we really see a shift in who Herb is as well, and that is pretty unique. 

I actually really enjoyed this story of the new apocalypse and survival, but there were some obvious plot holes that weren't fully explored. I did a little research and realized there is going to be a sequel, so I am looking forward to the caulk that takes care of these holes (like Adam's dad). Still, the story itself is pretty good in a league of many of its kind. Adam is an interesting kid who transitions just enough while not losing the type of person he was before the disaster, and Herb is a fascinating character. Since the story ends in a way that leaves you hanging and a little perturbed, I am grateful for the upcoming sequel! Adam and Herb's story isn't over, and I can't wait to see where this technology-less world takes them!

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