Top positive review
"I am not a soldier. I am a paranoid hillbilly wanting to get home to my family."
January 15, 2019
Franklin Horton is my latest binge-read. I tore thru his shared universe stuff in two weeks, except, dang it, I did it out of order, having started with the Locker Nine books, then The Mad Mick, before diving into The Borrowed World series. I'm caught up now and frustrated that I have to wait for new material like the rest of you peasants.
All's I know is Franklin Horton can write the dickens out of a post-apocalyptic novel. It's even more gratifying that these books are set in the same world, and that characters from the three series bump into each other.
It's terribly ironic that Jim Powell, main protagonist of The Borrowed World series, works for a mental health agency, seeing as he can't stand people, so I assume his empathy holds at a low ebb. When simultaneous, coordinated terror attacks cripple the nation, Jim and his five co-workers, away on a work seminar in Richmond, begin their 300-mile journey home that's fraught with, well, if you're familiar with this genre, you can figure out the challenges our party is about to face.
It's not that Jim Powell is a prepper as much as a product of hillbilly upbringing, raised on the belief that the government cannot be trusted. He comes from hardy and independent stock. He's the driving force that galvanizes his co-workers into beating feet home. He may not win the blue ribbon for nice, but he's the sort of hombre you want around when America's infrastructure collapses. And who we kiddin'? Jim Powell IS a prepper.
Book alternates between Jim's first person narration to Jim's wife Ellen's third person perspective. We observe as Ellen holds down the fort back home as she and the kids, 13-year-old Pete and 11-year-old Ariel, attempt to follow Jim's intruction manual for emergencies. My personal approval rating for Ellen kept on skyrocketing as the book progressed. She knows how to handle her business.
Chaos and lawlessness. Supply runs. Leveling up with your guns and ammo. FEMA doing what FEMA does when TEOTWAWKI goes down, or, rather, what the post-apocalyptic survival authors posit FEMA would do when stuff goes down. It's said FEMA will confiscate your guns and supplies in the name of the greater good, that all gas and diesel will be comandeered for authorized emergency vehicles. FEMA inspires such paranoia in the prepper community, and I hope they're wrong, but I'm leaning towards making sure I got my sh-- squared away, just in case. Just once, for swerve's sake, it'd be nice to see FEMA portrayed as a benevolent and capable group. I think the only time FEMA's been written as more or less a neutral force - instead of as an actively malevolent entity - is in Doreen Stalter's Allison's Secret: Post Apocalyptic Woman.
I guess you should take time to get to know Jim's co-workers as some of them will feature heavily in later volumes. But only some of them. With these kinds of books, it's a game of Russian roulette as far as which characters survive. Try hard not to get attached. But I had a soft spot for two of the co-workers: Gary, an older fellow prepper, and Randi, a no-nonsense grandmother.