THE AFTER DAYS By Amy Ginsburg

A B-level semi-apocalypse story.  “Middle-aged suburbanites Rachel and Zach team with their friends to battle not only the predators and scavengers who lurk around every corner but also empty pantries, boredom, despair … and sometimes each other.  How far are they willing to go to survive the Big Blackout?

This gripping dystopian twist on contemporary fiction about a woman who must find within herself the strength and ingenuity to endure a world suddenly without electricity is both terrifyingly real and astonishingly tender.

Perfect for book clubs, The After Days explores the ethical quandaries and logistical problems of ordinary suburbanites – people whose most recent problems were dodgy Wi-Fi and cranky bosses – in their struggle to survive in the increasingly treacherous suburbs of Washington, DC.”

OK, I’m a crank.  I admit it.  When a book blurb attempts to tell me how to use the book, i.e. book club,  I am immediately suspicious of its quality.

The story line was pretty good. the power grids are hacked basically all over the world and no one knows when or even if there will ever be power again.  When we think about living off grid, we tend to think of rural houses near a running stream.  But let’s face it — the vast majority of people in developed countries live in cities and their adjacent suburbs. When the pumps stop pumping water, due to no electricity, they can’t just wander down to the banks of the local river and scoop up a couple of bucketfuls.  They can’t just walk into the garden, pull a few carrots, slaughter a chicken or two for food.  In our current times, no electricity is really a danger, and our food doesn’t arrive on four feet, (or two fowl feet).  It arrives in semis to the food distribution centers and to the supermarkets.

The book is a look at how far normally decent, law-abiding, kind, compassionate people will go to ensure their own survival.

So my issue is not with the plot.  It is with the writing, which for some reason I am having difficulty trying to explain, feels like the writing in a cozy mystery.  Not exactly chirpy, but it does not seem to have the gravitas of a different style of writing.  Maybe it is the “astonishingly tender” aspects spoken of in the blurb that give it the unbearable lightness of being that annoys me.

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