On the Bookshelf: After America by John Birmingham (Spoilers!)
The sequence of novels in this series is somewhat strange. After America, as the sequel to Without Warning and (I had guessed) the middle book of a trilogy, should be the bridge book between the plot driving catastrophe of the first book, and the climax that dramatically reshapes the world in the third book. Instead, After America breaks that mold and tells a story all of its own.
The way the series seems to be shaping up, Without Warning is the story of survival. It is the chronicle of all the things that went horribly terribly and unexpectedly wrong, and the lengths that the main characters went to in order to survive the unimaginable chaos that ensued with the arrival of the Wave that destroyed all higher primate life over the majority of North America. However, in the final pages of the first book, just when some sense of normalcy was returning to the world, the Wave disappears as enigmatically as it had appeared, leaving open a continent devoid of people yet covered by modern infrastructure, burned flooded and encroached upon by nature. After America is a novel that begins the story of the taming of a new and dangerous frontier, a Wild Wild East beset by pirates, pillagers, squatters and all manner of people doing unsavory and unscrupulous things..
I really liked After America although it seemed to be a bit scattered in its focus. Granted the story is told through the main characters and they themselves are scattered throughout the world, but I feel like there should be more going on in the background. Through the main characters we are able to get a feel for what it is like to be in post-wave Europe, Texas, New York and the partially/barely reclaimed American midwest, but everything else is a mystery. What was the fallout of the Israeli nuclear strike? There is a war being fought in New York, but why isn’t there just as big a confrontation going on in Washington D.C. or Philadelphia or Boston? I don’t feel like I needed to have viewpoint characters there as well, but considering that one of them is now the President of the United States perhaps something could have been mentioned in passing or as a part of some sort of status update from some department or another.
Oh well, I guess that makes me more eager for the arrival of the next book (and I am definitely going to read the next book!).