Review of Going Home, A Novel of Survival

Review of Going Home, A Novel of Survival

The publisher of Going Home, A Novel of Survival by A. American contacted me a couple of months ago and asked if I would be willing to review A. American’s debut novel.  The book had actually been on my wish list for a while so I jumped at the chance and they shipped over not just the first book, Going Home, but also the sequels Surviving Home and Escaping Home.  Unfortunately, the day job became a day, night and weekend job the past several months so I hadn’t been able to get around to reading Going Home.  I still couldn’t wait to read Going Home so prior to an extended car trip I purchased the newly available Audible version and started in.  While this was going to be a review of Going Home, I couldn’t wait to read the sequels so it’s really a review of the entire series to date.

Going HomeGoing Home and its sequels follows the interrelated stories of Morgan Carter, Thad, Jessie, and Linus AKA ‘Sarge’ as they negotiate a world devastated by a Coronal Mass Ejection or Electro-Magnetic Pulse.  The story is expansive with a large cast of characters surrounding each of the main characters.

Morgan Carter is the primary character and much of the story is told in the first person from Morgan’s point of view.  Morgan is a technology worker and dedicated prepper who is well prepared for the event and protecting his wife and three daughters but is caught off guard when the event occurs while he’s 250 miles from home.

The novels switch seamlessly back and forth into the third person to tell the stories of Thad, Jessie and Linus.  Thad is a trucker with a family of his own.  He’s no prepper but does have an awareness of the need to prep and carries a few supplies in his truck just in case.  Jessie is a smart but naive young woman with a brother and parents that she wants to return home to and Linus, AKA Sarge is a retired Army First Sergeant who’s only family is the men he served with.

Surviving HomeThe novels are cleverly arranged around three prepping scenarios that every prepper and survivalist has considered and primarily revolve around Carter’s situation:

  • Going Home is about getting home when caught hundreds of miles away with no modern transportation options
  • Surviving Home is about bugging in and negotiating the difficulties of living in a society that is falling apart do to lack of power, medicine, transportation, food, hygiene and governance.
  • Escaping Home realistically tells of the logistical and emotional challenges of abandoning one’s home and bugging out to a safer location.

As the first book begins you may be worried that you’re going to be reading ‘gear porn’ as the author describes Carter’s get home kit in ways reminiscent of a Mack Bolan book describing weapons and equipment but that aspect to the writing quickly fades as the author finds his voice and focuses on a character driven story.

I found the story to be less fanciful and more well reasoned than virtually any other ‘prepper novel’ I’ve read.  As the story unfolds in the later books our characters must deal not only with the challenges of a changed, lawless world and a desperate population but eventually they must deal with an opportunistic government drunk on it’s own tyrannical power following the declaration of martial law.

Escaping HomeWhile not explicitly mentioned the author seems to have taken inspiration for this latter element from current and recent events to craft a complicated environment that our heroes must survive within.  Two of the inspirations seem to be the President’s plan to “fundamentally transform” the nation and create a civilian national security force just as strong as our military.  In the book series the unnamed administration operates under the ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ philosophy and the solar flare is a crisis of epic proportions that leads to an attempt to create a transformation of equally epic proportions through a power grab under the auspices of martial law.  The author uses this oppressive Federal plan implemented by a reinforced Department of Homeland Security to implicitly and explicitly asks the question ‘why did the the average German go along with Hitler’ and relates it to a martial law gone mad situation that the author develops in the U.S.

One of the things that I especially like about the books is that the Army is largely portrayed as a force for good, holding to its mission of ‘supporting and defending the Constitution.’   This reflects my military experience and the character of the men and women I’ve served with.  This developing story line pits abandoned and isolated military units against a well supplied Department of Homeland Security bent on transforming the nation into a collection of ‘pacified’ areas reliant on and working to support a strong central government involved in every aspect of life.

My primary complaint about the series is that I started reading it before all the books were finished.  I wasn’t halfway through the first book when I bought the second and the third…the fourth is finished but hasn’t been released yet.  The book could have used a good edit by someone familiar with Army operations and radio procedures but the distractions were relatively minor when compared with the overall quality of the story.

If you like great survival stories that don’t follow a predictable formula and a little preparedness learning thrown in as a bonus, A. American’s books are for you…they certainly are for me!

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