A young boy and his family survive nuclear apocalypse in their underground bunker in Powell’s (Doomsday Diaries IV, 2012) first offering in a dystopian series.
On a seemingly normal day, 13-year-old Luke starts his home-schooled day with Dad, learning about world religions and self-defense techniques. Before lunchtime rolls around, he’s in the family jeep racing toward their secret bunker after they learn of nuclear attacks in New York and an imminent attack in nearby Austin, Texas. They escape annihilation by minutes. What follows is an account of life inside the bunker, where Luke and his parents live for almost five years before they’re forced outside due to a dwindling cache of supplies. The novel suffers in several key ways. A little over half of the 135-page story is written in a series of journal entries from Luke’s perspective, which sketches a smooth yet superficial glance of day-to-day activities in the shelter, from the boring freeze-dried meals to the combat and firearm drills Luke’s dad thinks are necessary in their new life. The prose tends to be light on both substance and the creativity often found in its genre counterparts. However, the plot really picks up when the family decides to leave the shelter. Unsure of what they’ll encounter, they’re taken aback by what they find: A structure has been built around their bunker, and they’re almost immediately met by an official of the “New World Order.” The novel then moves quickly into the sci-fi realm, with futuristic military suits and a secret facility that reassigns peoples’ identities. Luke is transported to a location where teenagers are programmed to engage in sexual activities in order to repopulate civilization. Most of the novel’s substance can be found here, but it’s a bit too much action for a little over 60 pages. This rushed section feels implausible and out of place in comparison to the novel’s rather pedestrian beginning.
A compelling premise that suffers from a lack of balance and an underdeveloped plot.