When a solar flare knocks out all technology, residents of an isolated New Hampshire town must figure out how to survive.
Unless neighbors share their precious resources, many will not make it through the brutal winter. Unfortunately a violent faction of racists has other plans. Determined to take control of the town, they burn down the local supermarket, robbing the residents of food and medication. Charlie Cobb’s mother, a Type 2 diabetic, will not survive without her medication. To save her, Charlie must risk exposure, wild animals, and desperate people to ski the 50 miles to the closest hospital. The science behind the apocalyptic event is suspiciously vague, but the realistic portrayal of the human capacity for both good and evil is well-written: some resort to hoarding and violence in the face of the global catastrophe, but others choose an enlightened path and elect to care for one another. A slow beginning pays off during Charlie’s desperate journey, and the depiction of a world gone suddenly dark is both terrifying and completely possible. Philbrick’s overarching message is clear. While ruthless villains might be living next door, so might a school janitor–turned–selfless leader and a boy-turned-hero.
Readers who get past the sketchy science will find a riveting, credible, and even inspiring vision of life just after the apocalypse. (Science fiction. 8-12)