The Darkness After by Scott B. Williams

Posted on: August 16, 2013

In THE DARKNESS AFTER, author Scott B. Williams revisits the world he created in his previous novel, THE PULSE. An EMP (electromagnetic pulse) has taken down the electrical grid across America, leaving people stranded, hungry, and increasingly desperate. The story here picks up a week or so after the EMP hit and anarchy has already begun to replace law and order.

Mitch and April are both in their late teens and come from two different worlds of experience. Mitch spends every free moment in the forest, practicing and refining his bushcraft skills. He is an excellent hunter and extremely proficient with archery. April is a city girl, knows little about how to live off the land, but is far from helpless. Prior to his death, April’s father taught her how to shoot and how to defend herself using Kenpo, a form of martial art.

Mitch saves April from an attack by a small group of ne’er do wells and they decide to work together in an attempt to get back to their respective loved ones. Along the way, they each learn vital survival skills from one another.

The author does an excellent job of crafting these characters, showing us both strengths and weaknesses. Neither are superhuman, possessing unbelievable skills and abilities. They have faults and are, in fact, much like teens you may have known yourself. Like Mitch, when I was a kid you couldn’t keep me out of the woods. Also like Mitch, I had a difficult time relating to many of my peers because of this.

The story moves along at a brisk pace, pulling the reader along from scene to scene in a way that make the book difficult to put down. THE DARKNESS AFTER is considered a “young adult” book. It is written for the teen crowd. As such, the gory details from violent encounters are kept to a minimum, as is profanity, and there are no scenes of intimacy. While each child is different in reading ability as well as maturity, I would see no real issues with letting someone as young as perhaps 12 take a look at THE DARKNESS AFTER.

As might be expected, given that the author has also written several very well received survival manuals, THE DARKNESS AFTER has a lot of great real world information of interest to preppers and survivalists. For example, rather early on in their travels, Mitch suggests they break away from traveling the roads and instead cut through the wilderness areas, using the mostly cleared pipelines in the area as walking trails. This is an excellent idea! Human nature is to follow the paths most familiar, those being the highways and byways we would normally drive upon. That’s where you’ll find the crowds of refugees after a major disaster.

All in all, I really enjoyed THE DARKNESS AFTER. The only real strike against it, in my opinion, is the dialogue reads a bit formal. Most teens, and most adults for that matter, tend to talk in contractions and short sentences. “They aren’t here” versus “They are not here where I saw them last.” That said, dialogue can be one of the most difficult elements of fiction to master.

THE DARKNESS AFTER gets two thumbs!

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