Back a couple of decades ago, I had a literature class in high school where we studied a number of classic novels. Every test in the class was a series of essay questions and we received two different grades on those tests–one for content and one for grammar and punctuation. If GOING HOME were graded in that fashion, I’d give it a B to a B+ for content and a D for grammar.
GOING HOME is easily one of the most popular pieces of prepper fiction to come out in the last few years. I’d heard great things about it so when I came across it in a bookstore, I snapped it up. The story itself is engaging but the execution of it is clumsy at best.
Morgan Carter is a prepper, through and through. He has an extensive bug out bag with him at all times. This is important as he travels extensively for work. His home is well stocked with food and water. His home is also equipped with a small solar array, affording his family with some degree of power generation. Morgan is away from home when the balloon goes up, in this case an EMP strike. It doesn’t take him long to recognize the event for what it is and he sets out for home, with 200+ miles of hard travel ahead of him.
During his journey, he meets a couple of people who become allies. It is through one of those new friends, Thad, that he also meets a group of soldiers who have decided they do not like the direction the government is heading. It is through these military characters that we as readers learn a bit more about what’s been happening in the country at large since the EMP event. The powers that be seem to be using the event to further their own agenda, including martial law, firearm confiscation, and asset seizure.
The bulk of the story is told from Morgan’s perspective. After the introduction of Sarge and his team, the story breaks up into following Morgan for a while, then focusing on those secondary characters. And this is also where a fair amount of the trouble occurs with the actual storytelling. There is a lot of what we call “head hopping” throughout the book, where we bounce around from different characters’ perspectives. This leads to confusion at times. The author also can’t seem to make up his mind as to what tense he should be using in the book. Sometimes we’re right there with the characters, watching the events unfold. Then, without warning or explanation, we shift to the character describing the events as though from a later time. Again, confusing.
My understanding is that GOING HOME was originally self-published, then picked up by Plume and published as a reprint. After reading the book, it seems to me that Plume didn’t bother to edit the book prior to repackaging it. Any author worth his or her salt will tell you that they are their own worst editor. It is that new set of eyes that will see errors and omissions, as well as suggesting ways to tighten up the story. For example, while I’m as much of a gadget hound as the next prepper, I don’t need intricately detailed descriptions of each and every piece of gear Morgan pulls from what must be the largest bug out bag on the planet. Had these descriptions alone been trimmed, the book would have been much slimmer and the story much better for it.
All in all, I can’t say I hated GOING HOME. The story was engaging and kept me turning pages all the way to the end. It was also good enough to cause me to want to pick up the next book in the series, if only to see if the writing gets better. GOING HOME has faults, lots of them, but the story itself is solid.