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Lights Out
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228 of 245 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2010
This is one of those books that sticks with you. Compels you to think about what these people are going through. His characters are vivid and well thought out. The reality that he spins is concrete and understandable. The range of reactions to this very real threat are believable and don't drift into fantasy.

The basic premise of the book is of a US plunged into chaos following an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack. If you aren't tracking at this point, an EMP attack is the destruction of the electronic infrastructure of the country using nuclear weapons detonated in space. These weapons create an EMP that fry anything connected to the power grid and anything with complex electronics. Cars Dead. Computers Dead. Most of the things we take for granted are just switched off. This causes a cascading failure that effects everyone in the country. Needless to say this is the end of the world as they knew it. Are you ready to fend for yourself ... and your family?

Bobby Ann Mason once said that the best stories occurred when you take ordinary people and place them in extraordinary situations. LIGHTS OUT deals with a group of ordinary people who band together and form a community in the aftermath of this national disaster. The ethics of self reliance and hard work are that are missing from some arenas of modern-life are alive in this volume. The relationships are natural, they feel organic and not forced. The level of drama never takes me out of the story and aside from some lucky pre-planning and coincidental hobbies there is nothing that I think is contrived about the setting or events. I would like to have seen some greater focus on the realities beyond the community but the outside world is addressed all be it briefly. I hope to see other stories from this "world."

Having read David's work online for years, I can tell you that this guy is a writer. He produces and he learns. This is an amazing first book and I look forward to future efforts from him. Maybe a book about two guys named DJ and Gabe will be availible on Amazon this time next year. We can only hope.
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162 of 177 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2011
This is a tough review. There were aspects of this book that I really enjoyed. I love the subject matter. I'm an end of the world story kinda person (sans zombies) and am always searching for the next good novel. But this book was tough to get into. In fact, I didn't think I'd get through the first 50 pages. The dialogue between the characters was at times elementary and frankly, quite cheesy. But I stuck to it, trying get to the meat of the dilemna -- will they make it and if so, how? Once about fifty pages in, I was in it. And I cared. The cheesy dialogue and forced conversations were still there but the meat was there too. I loved the details of the initial setup of their community, the organizational elements that they implemented, and the way they prioritized what was essential. Very interesting and I'm in it. Then about two thirds of the way through the book, the endless narrative about guard duty and what gun is what nearly lost me altogether. I sort of trudged my way to the end of the book, glad I read it but equally glad it was over. This was a very long book that shouldn't have been. The editors could have cut a solid third of this book and improved it greatly.

Not every conversation needs to be or should be written: "Good morning." "Good morning." "Would you like some breakfast?" "I would love some breakfast." Just basic examples of conversations that were written, for pages, that add absolutely nothing at all to the overall basis for the story. Same thing about guard duty and guard duty and guard duty -- you get the picture.

All right, so this review obviously conflicts with most of the others but it's just my honest opinion. I'd say that if a skilled editor got a hold of this diamond in the rough it'd be a 5 star book without a doubt. But until then, I'll point most of my friends in the direction of One Second After by William Forstchen.
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139 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2010
An amazing read, this book should be in your library if you're into SHTF fiction. James Wesley, Rawles's "Patriots", William Forstchen's "One Second After", and John Ringo's "The Last Centurian" were all OK stories, I have them on my book shelf along with many other good disaster, preparedness, SHTF, survival and action / adventure fictional works.

The only other books of this genre in my opinion that come anywhere close the level of "Light's Out" might be the first book in Thomas Sherry's series entitled "Deep Winter". I found the majority of the characters and scenarios fairly plausible(more so than some other novels of this genre which I've enjoyed less). I definately liked the characters being closer to "Joe Average" than "John Rambo". If you are the type of person whom would rather bury your head in the sand and pretend the world will always be a friendly and convienent place then this novel may not be the best story for you. However, "Lights Out" may help some wake up and take notice of the fact that the level of luxury and civility that we currenty enjoy in a society spoiled by such a high standard of living may not always be common practice.

If the lights go out the stores could close up, our paper money could become worthless, most would likely become hungry and desperate, your neighbors could become your biggest enemies and the proverbial gloves very well could come off if or when the "S" Hits The Fan. "Lights Out" may help get you thinking about how you would handle a prolonged bad situation and how you can start preparing now to keep you and yours better off then.

I originally read this book several years ago as an online PDF file, reading the 700 or so pages off of a computer screen nearly trashed my eyes and yet I read it nearly straight through in just a couple days with as few breaks as I could manage. If David was able to keep the hardcopy even close to as good as the online draft version(and I'm sure the updated, edited and printed version is much better) than this book is likely not to disapoint!
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97 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2010
This is an incredibly good book. I read it almost two years ago online and it was the catalyst for getting me thinking about 'what if's'.

I had never really thought through what I might do if bad weather lasted more than a month, or an earthquake hit my area, or floods.

In this book, It is about a family, then neighborhood that faces a situation with no stable electricity and all of the problems that brings. If you're new to 'prep' type reading, this is a really enjoyable fiction book, while learning at time about multiple challenges and how this family/neighborhood overcame each one.

If you're not new to prep reading, you have probably already read this, and are here like I am to pick up a copy or two. This book has gotten so many people to become aware of how quickly life can change, and how really ill equipped most of us are to handle more than a week or so of 'lights out'

Thanks (H)... David for helping me to wake up a bit, and notice the squirrel.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2011
As someone that read this book as well as the other mentioned books "One Second After" by William Forstchen and "Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the coming Collapse" I would have to summarize the books in this way:

Lights Out - probably the most entertaining fiction on a personal level. Overall this is the most uplifting and hopeful of the three books. However, I found parts of this book to be contrived and far fetched. The characters basically have unlimited money, a well that sustains hundreds of people, grocery stores that still operate on some level, running vehicles and gasoline, a thieving ex-marine supply clerk neighbor with hand grenades, a Gunny with armor piercing shells, a friendly gun dealer to supply the tribe with boxes and boxes of assault rifles and ammo etc. etc. Don't get me wrong. I like this story in the way they restore order but I doubt if there was an EMP event or other catastrophe it would ever remotely go down this way.

Patriots - This is a survivalist manual presented in a fictional format. It needs to be read hand in hand with the author's non fiction manual and blog. The story presents a scenario where the "patriots" would be in a war with the federal government. I think few people will ever be able to prepare in this manner as you would need to be independently wealthy to purchase the land and the massive amount of necessities and be willing to move to a hide out in advance of a collapse. Most of us need our jobs to survive the present. I *love* the information in this book but would never be able integrate myself into this kind of system for many reasons besides money... Still I refer to this book often in preparing for my family safety. Recommended...

One Second After - Probably the most realistic of the three books and the most depressing. The author is ex-military and I believe was involved in thinking about scenarios just like this and it shows. People you love will starve and die from lack of medication and bad guys and there is nothing you can do other than fight to survive. Very tough decisions need to be made. The main character is a human being that is willing to bend the rules for a sick daughter - just like any of us would. It is very sad and really if a catastrophe like this happened, in my opinion it would play out like this. Lets be honest, millions of people would starve if our supply chain was disrupted. The government would not be able to stop it. It could take us literally back to the 1800s or earlier...

Thats my take. I liked all three books for different reasons but the Forstchen book is the most realistic. I liked it the least because it frightened me the most. I would like to believe we could all get along but nothing I see tells may that would be the case.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2010
When an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) attack destroys the power grid, this intriguing novel begins. Mark Turner is at work in the San Antonio area when the Burst, as it is called in the novel, sends the nation into chaos. Telephones, and most radios go silent, late model cars die, planes fall from the sky. Government struggles to maintain order and provide relief, but in the cities, society quickly breaks down. The novel follows Mark, his friend Jim Davis and a growing community of family and friends as they work feverishly to protect themselves and their families while civilization unravels around them.

Lights Out has been downloaded from the internet in PDF format over three million times. It is now available in a 600-page paperback edition and on Amazon.com in Kindle format where it is selling well.

The author, David Crawford, states in his bio that he resides in San Antonio and is "an avid outdoorsman who likes to hunt, fish, hike, off-road, and shoot," and that he is a black belt in Karate. There is definitely something of David Crawford in the character of Mark Turner.

Most reviews that are critical of the book fault the writing and that is what compelled me to give it four stars. However, the EMP threat is so real and compelling I can forgive some bad editing (that will hopefully be corrected in latter editions) and the expository telling, instead of showing, through much of the story. Others, who see the novel as simply as an action novel might be quicker to fault technique.
The novel is a warning. Crawford states he wrote the book, "to try to get people to prepare." The novel does stir thinking and discussion. Could it happen? What would we do? Are we ready?

My wife and I read Lights Out at the same time. I thought the book compared favorably to One Second After. Lights Out had the better story, but One Second After had the better writing. My wife felt Lights Out was the better novel on both counts. We agree that Lights Out is a realistic, thought-provoking post-apocalyptic novel.

At the close of my review of One Second After I said, "The threat is real. Read the book." The threat has not diminished, read both.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2010
I've never written a book review on Amazon (or anywhere else for that matter), but here I am. This book is that good. Nevermind what others have said about this book's habit of opening the reader's eyes as to what could lay in our near future, and how one might prepare for it. Back when the book was freely distributed on the Internet, someone called it "the most expensive book I never paid for," and that was certainly the case for my family. I'm not sure anyone could read this book and not re-examine their readiness to survive a life-disrupting change in society, regardless of the cause.

Setting aside that angle entirely, this book tells an engaging story with a fast-paced plot that appears quite reasonable each step of the way, including the twists. It is an enjoyable read if you have any interest at all in human behavior. As we watch the riots unfold in Europe as unprepared citizens suddenly face a disruption in services and/or government subsidies, the behavior of the wryly-named "Mutant Zombie Bikers" (or MZB's, who are neither mutants nor zombies, but bikers behaving badly) doesn't appear at all far-fetched.

Because the book is a fun read, it's a great introduction to the preparedness mindset, even for folks who see no pressing need to make any preparations--or at least they don't see the need until they get a few chapters into the book. At that point, their thinking tends to shift, and that's when the true value (and cost!) of the book becomes apparent. I would guess this book has served as a conversation starter for thousands of couples and friends, and has led many of us to make the first step in preparing for the day when the lights go out, whether for a few hours or a few years. For that, I owe the author a debt of gratitude. Hopefully this review (and the multiple copies I've purchased for friends and relatives) will help repay that debt.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
Like many other reviewers who have given this book low marks, I wanted to like it. Finding a good book in this genre is as unlikely as finding a good zombie book. When you finally find one, you’re thrilled! Unfortunately, this isn’t a book that will give you that thrill.
When I finished John Wesley Rawles “Patriots”, I knew I’d read the worst book of my life…until now. And, as is the case with that book, “Lights Out” has a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings from people who are of like mind with the author. I’ve come up with four possible reasons why so many people rate these books so highly:
1. They want to get the message of prepping out to as many people as possible, and any book that does so (no matter what its flaws) is a great thing in their eyes.
2. They found useful information for their own preps and, despite the fact that that information was presented in the format of a novel (a format that has a different purpose than a non-fiction book), they’re appreciative of the information and feel obliged to give the book a high rating.
3. They like to see their views about Christianity and the Constitution parroted by characters in a novel. They will certainly never see them sympathetically presented in a book that is released by a major publisher. I say that as someone who largely comes down on the side of the preppers, by the way.
4. This isn’t really a fourth independent reason so much as it is a possible addition to any of the three above: A lot of the 5 star reviewers, I suspect, don’t read a lot of novels. That’s not a criticism. Some people don’t like to read, and I have seen YouTube reviews of this book where the reviewers plainly state that they don’t read a lot of books. Having little to compare “Lights Out” to, these people don’t see what a really, really, really badly written book this is.

Now, on to why I give this book such a low rating.
- There is way too much mundane information passed on. The author has apparently never read a book about writing a novel. One of the first rules is to only include information that your reader needs to know *to be able to follow the STORY you are telling.* Let me give an example. In the first ten pages, we are introduced to SIXTEEN characters: Mark, Jim, Suzy, Mr. Davis, Todd, Tom, Jess, David, Samantha, Joe, Billy, James (not the same as the previously mentioned Jim), Mary, Sarah, Cindy, and Dave (not the same as the previously mentioned David). How many of those characters will the reader never hear from again after those first ten pages? Eight. Why force a reader to learn eight people’s names in ten pages if they don’t matter? Also, while I’m on the subject, look at those names. All are extremely common names, almost all are one syllable, and many are similar to other names in the list (e.g., Jim/James, Davis/David/Dave, Todd/Tom, Sarah/Cindy). When a person is beginning a book, he is gathering information and getting his bearings so he can start the journey. If he has to constantly flip back a few pages to figure out who is who, it drags him out of the story. If he does so and then discovers that he needn’t have bothered half the time - because those people don’t matter to the story – he isn’t going to trust the writer anymore.
- There isn’t enough *important* information presented in a timely manner. As other reviewers have noted, the writer doesn’t even bother to tell the reader where the characters live, while at the same time he is using news broadcasts to describe riots and fires in this or that city. Should I, as the reader, be worried for the characters? How should I know? Again, confusion like that jerks a person out of the story.
- The writer has apparently never heard the adage “show, don’t tell, your readers.” So, he writes things like “Suzy Sullivan, the office worrywart…” What he should do is just show Suzy worrying and let us draw our own conclusions…if it matters. The reality is that it doesn’t matter what Suzy is like because she vanishes from the story a few pages after we meet her. A somewhat related mistake is when he has the radio broadcast say, ““This is 1200 AM, broadcasting on reduced backup power.” Now, obviously this was just the writer trying to anticipate a reader's objection: “Saaay, If there’s no power, how can that station be broadcasting?!” And some of the negative reviewers of the book have made boneheaded objections like that. A good writer, however, would have put the objection in the mouth of one of the characters and let another character respond.
- The main character (Mark) is what has come to be known as a “Mary Sue.” A "Mary Sue" is a main character that is a representation of the author, who is using the story to engage in a kind of wish-fulfillment. Although it is true that writers are encouraged to “write what you know”, it is never a good idea to take that to mean “make yourself the indispensable main character in your book.” It’s the literary equivalent to a 10-year-old kid who always has to be the coolest character when he plays with other kids. The only person who is having fun and who thinks what he’s doing is awesome is him.
- The dialogue is unnatural and wooden. And, not just the women’s dialogue (it isn’t unusual for a male writer to do a poor job of mimicking the way women talk). Even the dialogue between men sounds phony and contrived.
- There is no character development and most of the characters speak with the exact same voice.
- The pacing is…well, there really isn’t any pacing. This book is in dire need of a vicious editor. I don’t agree with others, however, who say they think that would make the book a great read. As I’ve mentioned above, there’s too much wrong with it that has nothing to do with pacing. But, when you add a pacing problem to everything else, it’s just an intolerable book. This book was written as a long series of internet "chapters" that were eventually marketed as a book. I think it shows why outlining a story is always a better idea than just writing with no idea where your characters are going or how it will all turn out. I suspect the writer has never even heard of plot points and pinch points and where they go in a story and why. And it shows.

I don’t like giving books a negative review. I realize that people have put forth their best effort (or I assume so), and I don’t like tearing it down. But, reviews are what this section of Amazon is for and I have tried to be as honest with this one as possible. As the title of my review says, this is a novel written by someone who clearly has no idea how to write a novel.

Avoid this book and buy “One Second After” instead.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2013
Great premise, with a reasonable first chapter. Then the defects begin to build, and just don’t stop. WAY too many identified characters – do we really need the full names of every neighbor, shop owner, and employee? There were some fairly glaring science problems; the EMP seems to not have affected key critical electronics (cameras, night-vision scopes, radios, etc.). There were other science and engineering problems related to freezers, generators, plumbing, photography, construction, agriculture, etc. The highly detailed descriptions relating to firearms, ammunition, and trucks were in sharp contrast to the paucity of information about food, travel, and life-without-electricity.
Characterization was very thin; it was difficult to care about most. Males with machismo got some development. Most females were unidentified objects drifting through the narrative.
It’s an author’s right to stake out a position and “spread the word”. However, the politics were dated (China vs. Formosa?), stereotyped, and just tiresome.
The editorial shortcomings were especially notable. This project needed plot control, character development, more research, and serious pruning. The proofreading was done with a spell checker, but not much further.
No spoiler coming - I stuck with it to the end, hoping for something less predictable – but….
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43 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2011
This is a very interesting concept, and reasonably well written, but the book is at least twice as long as it should be. A day by day, hour by hour accounting for each possible event is overkill, especially since the book really just focuses in on one key character. Also, be aware that the book leans pretty heavily into right wing, anti-government politics, if that's not something you're interested in reading, then move along. It's not my politics at all, but always interested in different viewpoints so doesn't bother me.

One complaint about the writing style - very black and white in many cases, good guys vs. bad guys. He could have done much more in exploring how a situation like this pushes basically good people to do dishonorable things. Instead, the people who do bad things do REALLY bad things - murder, arson, rape, etc. Thegood guys, even if the events lead them to do things they normally would not have, are still above reproach. Naive in some ways, or at least playing to an audience.
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