The End by G. Michael Hopf

Posted on: May 6, 2014

I honestly cannot remember the last book I read that contained absolutely zero truly likeable characters.  Now, that’s not a slight against this book so please don’t take it that way.  I’ll explain what I mean in a bit.

Gordon Van Zandt is a former Marine living with his family in a suburban area of San Diego.  Early in the book, we are also introduced to his brother, Sebastian, who is currently serving in the Marine Corps and is shipping overseas.  Soon after that happens, North America, Europe, and the Far East are hit with massive EMP attacks.

As the story progresses, we are following three major plot lines.  The first concerns Gordon and his family and friends in his neighborhood.  The second is following Sebastian as he slowly makes his way back to the United States.  The third involves the newly President of the United States and how he and what remains of his cabinet react to the disaster.

Ok, remember what I said about the lack of likeable characters?  Gordon, and to a lesser extent Sebastian, are ostensibly the heroes of the book.  Yet, they frequently engage in decidedly unheroic actions.  They each are involved in killing people who may not necessarily deserve it, for example.  What this does though is make the characters very human and realistic.  Real life is seldom like a novel and few if any of us are truly heroes each and every single day, y’know?

As time goes on, things begin to go from bad to worse for Gordon and company.  Scavenging teams are having to venture further and further, with little to show for their efforts.  Gordon is also combating dissension within his community, with at least a few people working against him as he tries valiantly to lead the neighborhood in the right direction.

Meanwhile, Sebastian is having second thoughts about the new mission with which his superior has tasked he and his fellow Marines.  It goes against his personal values and morals and he struggles with deciding what to do about it.

The new President is slowly becoming unhinged, wanting to lash out at someone, anyone, he feels could be responsible for the EMP attacks.

Throughout the book, the characters engage in very realistic behavior, which is refreshing to me, someone who has read several truckloads of books with a similar premise.  In fact, there is one character named Mindy who is portrayed so realistically that you want to reach into the book and throttle her at several points in the story.

Given that the author is a former Marine, I’m taking it at face value that the acronyms and other jargon sprinkled throughout the book are genuine.  But, while those decidedly cryptic terms do lend an air of realism to the book, it would have been nice if they’d been explained to the readers who aren’t familiar with them.

Also, the book suffers from a lack of editing.  The story is somewhat bloated and should have been trimmed down a fair amount.  The dialogue also comes across as stilted or forced in many scenes.  There is quite a bit of “head hopping” in the book.  During a scene in a novel, it is typical that we readers are only given the thoughts of one character.  In The End, we are often given the “inside scoop” on several characters at once.  While not the end of the world, no pun intended, this is a pretty big offense when it comes to novels.

So, would I recommend The End?  Yeah, I would.  For all its flaws, the story is solid and realistic.  I enjoyed it enough to pick up the sequel, The Long Road, and will dig into it soon.

You can find The End at all major bookstores, including here on Amazon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *