The Wayward Journey by Nathan Hale Jefferson

Posted on: July 15, 2013

Overall, this was a nicely crafted tale about the aftermath of a major earthquake. The author does a great job of pulling the reader along through the story. However, the book isn’t without a few flaws.

As the story begins, we see the United States economy is spiraling downward. Unemployment is sky-high and many people are having a rough time. In some cities, civil servants like garbage collectors have gone on strike. Power companies have begun shutting off utilities due to non-payment, even for government buildings like schools.

John and Margaret are fairly well-to-do suburbanites. Well-to-do at least as compared to many others. Several months prior to the story’s beginning, Margaret lost her job as an attorney. John then got a job as a troubleshooter for a large oil drilling company. This job requires John to frequently travel all over the country, which soon takes a toll on Margaret and their children.

It is during one of these business trips that the unthinkable happens — a major earthquake hits the New Madrid fault line. John is stranded about 2,000 miles away from home. Flights have been canceled from coast to coast. With little in the way of supplies, and no clear way to purchase more, John is forced to rely on his wits to make it back to his family.

Along the way, he deals with looters, corrupt local government officials, criminals, and loneliness. John isn’t a survivalist, he isn’t very well prepared for this journey at all. What he lacks in supplies though, he makes up for with quick thinking, grace under pressure, and a steely resolve to see his wife and children again.

Throughout the book, we are kept informed of world events through the use of radio broadcasts that begin almost every chapter. These short snippets serve to enlighten the reader as to how the earthquake has affected the world at large, with power outages ranging from coast to coast, riots and looting taking place in major cities, and National Guard units trying to keep up with developments.

Along the way, we are also treated to scenes of life at home with Margaret and her neighbors. One of them, Garrett, has decided to take full advantage of the disaster, working quickly to secure his place as leader of the community, and not caring too much how he goes about it. From his first appearance in the book, it is made quite clear just what sort of person he is and what he’s willing to do in order to not just survive but ensure he is seen as a savior to the community.

As I noted earlier, the book has a few problems. First, it suffers the same issue as many other self-published books. It really needs a good line edit. The book is riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and homonym mistakes (their/there/they’re, hear/here, that sort of thing). The dialogue is stilted and forced in many instances. Some scenes could have been cut completely while others really could have used elaboration.

That should not be taken as an insult to Jefferson’s writing ability. As a writer, I can tell you that it is nigh-impossible to edit your own work effectively. No matter how talented the writer may be, it is the editor who makes them truly shine. THE WAYWARD JOURNEY is truly a well-crafted tale and worth the read. But, future editions as well as sequels would be well-served by having an editor, a second or even third set of eyes, going through the manuscript(s).

It is not a spoiler at all to say the book does end with something of a cliffhanger. My understanding is the next book in the series will be out soon. Personally, I’m very much looking forward to hearing what happens next with John and company! THE WAYWARD JOURNEY is available here on Amazon in either paperback or for the Kindle.

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