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The First Week

by L. Steven Rencher

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 2012
Publisher: Frayer and Williams Publishing

A family struggles to survive the week after a giant asteroid crashes into the sea off the coast of New Jersey.

Four years before the story begins, a 12.7 earthquake tumbled chunks of the West Coast into the Pacific Ocean. But the resulting geological chaos is less disturbing than the sudden disappearance of a third of the world’s population. Why? It’s a mystery, but many blame UFOs. Gradually, people push it out of their minds, busy rebuilding a world turned upside down. East Coast restaurant owner Trent Hayes; Nora, his wife and a Wall Street lawyer; and their three spoiled children, Jennifer (an unemployed Penn State grad), Justin (a lazy, sneaky 16-year-old) and Rachel (a preciously sexy 15-year-old) live comfortable lives. Then on an ordinary day—Nora is at work in the city, Trent is driving back home—a two-and-a-half mile wide asteroid splashes onto the continental shelf off New Jersey. Life turns nightmarish as both parents struggle separately through a devastated urban landscape to return home. Their children wait, running out of food and fearing strangers, in what’s left of their mid-Hudson Valley McMansion. Nora and Trent each form loose—and sometimes treacherous—alliances with other refugees. Nora’s trek through a Manhattan landscape (New York City and New Jersey have been declared ground zero) takes three days (the same time it took Jonah to walk through the biblical Nineveh). Despite sporadic relief efforts from National Guard troops, chaos reigns in the United States. Rencher’s spare, simple narrative moves relentlessly in this Christian apocalyptic page-turner. He introduces spiritual matters subtly, avoiding what minor character Constance notes that she hates about the Christian church, “forcing their God on everyone” and “making me feel guilty about my choices.” However, the book suffers from a lack of simple proofreading, with errors like “gizmo’s” for “gizmos” and “what your asking” for “what you’re asking” distracting from the plot.

Readers will be drawn into Rencher’s story, invited to imagine the Book of Revelation materialized and to ponder with the characters whether they are ready to die.