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Collapse Paperback – July 6, 2012
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About the Author
Richard Stephenson was born in 1975 in Denison, TX and spent his childhood in North Texas. In 1992, he graduated high school after only three years. He then pursued his degree at Oklahoma Christian University, once again accomplishing the task in three years. Richard then married his best friend before going off to basic training to be a military policeman with the US Army. With his new wife joining the adventure, they spent the next four years at Fort Polk, LA and had two children.
Just before his son turned five, Richard and his wife were told that their oldest child had Asperger's Syndrome. Nine years later, Richard's son would become the inspiration for the character of Howard Beck.
Richard is a native Texan and currently resides in Southeast Texas with his wife and two children.
Top customer reviews
The book reads like it's intended to be a disaster movie with thriller elements. It follows three different men, each of them struggling to survive during the collapse of the United States due to various problems all happening at once: a hurricane, war, economic disaster, and internal collapse.
The one point I especially found difficult to swallow was the fate of Florida overall. The explanation of hurricane Luther suggests the author didn't research how hurricanes and meteorology actually work. The aftermath is an overly pessimistic view of human nature, one that doesn't match the realities of human nature. And while I can buy that a massive disaster can make it difficult to get relief to an area, the idea of a successful quarantine of an entire state is bizarre. If that state was Rhode Island or Hawaii, maybe, but Florida? Reporters (both professional and amateur) are more tenacious and devious than that. So are international relief workers.
I was willing to give a pass to the AI (whose name, Hal, is openly attributed to 2001: A Space Odyssey multiple times; in case you didn't get the joke the first four times, it's helpfully spelled out the fifth) as reasonable for roughly 15 years into the future. Things kept getting added on top of it, though. From poverty camps in Central Park to an Iranian Empire of Evil Nuclear Doom to other things, this book just has too much. Although later points aren't so far-fetched, the early ones destroyed my suspension of disbelief too much to accept the 'natural' evolution of the story.
The characters themselves are alright. I liked Max at first, until his Terrible Secret was rolled out and just used as a reason why he's single. His romance with Elizabeth didn't do anything for me, either - it felt contrived, as if the only reason it happened was because obviously a woman should fall in love with her boss. Richard gave me the reverse feeling, wherein I didn't care about him at first, then I got interested. For him, too, though, the non-prison crisis in his life felt contrived. Howard...is more a curiosity than anything else. He's done well enough, but not very interesting.
The story jumps around in time, and it's not always clear when the current chapter takes place. Later chapters begin with recaps of earlier chapters, which is insulting to the reader. The inclusion of the bigger picture chapters only serve to confuse and distract from the stories of the three men.
I like thrillers, and I like disaster stories, but I did not like this book. Without the vast quantities of exposition, I could probably have enjoyed it enough for 3 stars, as the writing overall isn't bad.
The cast of characters is long and varied in this book, and each one is trying to navigate the crumbling world around them. For example, there is the character of Howard Beck a millionaire computer genius who suffers from Asperger Syndrome. Then there is Maxwell Harris, a small town sheriff who is just trying to maintain some semblance of law and order all while dealing with his own demons. There are many others of course, including a convict trying to rescue his kids, government officials with more than service to the country on their mind, and a pediatrician that is forced to use skills she never thought she would after medical school.
For every review that I have the pleasure of doing, I try to come up with one word that could summarize the sensation or feelings I get when I put the book down. The only fitting word that I can come up with for this book is painful. The beginning third of the book is a slow agonizing march through a series of completely unrelated story lines, and most of it is background filler that could have easily been finished in about twenty pages. The second third has a bit more action, but even here the book felt more like a dry history lesson than an action adventure. At one point during a raging gun fight between a local hero cop and a band of redneck thugs I actually dozed off. Then, in the final third of the book-- nearly 300 pages into the Kindle book we are finally introduced to the real villain of the piece. Prior to that time there is no real hint of him, mention or even a slight indication of him in the shadows.
The only good point that this reader could find in this book is the character of Howard Beck, a computer genius who has Asperger Syndrome, a form of Autism. I sincerely hope that the author's aim was to present the character and his condition in a satirical light because I have yet to come across anyone with autism that fits so many stereotypes so religiously. If that was his intention I applaud him for succeeding in a spectacular fashion. In addition, the book is full of implausibility, stereotypes, clichés and the need to suspend disbelief is almost overwhelming.
If you are looking for a mystery or thriller to read, I cannot in good faith recommend this book. However, if you are looking a satirical story about where the country is headed without any consideration for common sense, I highly recommend it.
Most recent customer reviews
I really enjoyed the premise of the story. It was different than what I usually read.
It was interesting to see the development of the characters.Read more