Darkness Begins (After the EMP #1) by Harley Tate

Read June 2018
Recommended for fans of the possible apocalypse
★    ★    ★   1/2

Ah, vacation.

It’s no secret I’m a sucker for the apocalypse, and after seeing how America treats one of it’s natural-resource vacationlands, my feeling is that we’re all doomed. I had been saving this freebie for this exact mood, so on my last night of vaca, I treated myself to opening it up.

I could not put it down.

Simply written, it tells the tale of Madison and Tracy, a daughter and her mother, right before a massive sunflare erupts and coincides with a solar storm that will create a massive EMP (a premise used in the tv show Dark Angel to interesting effect). Alternating between the two viewpoints, we experience the change from a naive, optimistic college student, to that of her more jaded mother. Madison’s understanding of the crisis comes about through one of her astrophysics-geeky friends, and she alerts her mother to what might be going on. Tracy has her concerns amplified by a friend and by a quick update from her pilot husband. Because it’s spring break, Madison’s campus is mostly deserted, with just her and three friends hanging around.

One of the genre pitfalls is the risk of explano-babble. Tate does have to resort to a bit in the beginning, but in fairness, its done reasonably organically. Actually, the set-up seems semi-believable; a natural but statistically improbable combination of events that is small enough that it would be reported in specialist journals and geeky news feeds, but unappreciated by the general public. It was overly-coincidental when Tracy ran into a parallel explainer, but I’m willing to forgive. The character needed a corroberator to overcome the character’s–and by extension, the reader’s–disbelief. Madison having three other friends around her also gives the narrator a chance to demonstrate three other reactions to the news.

The writing is straightforward, but it suits the equally straightforward plot. The series is more like a novella installment; both books that I’ve read so far have a complete and satisfying arc, but also point the way toward a new challenge.

“Say all of this is true. That some massive solar storm is coming our way and about to knock out the power. How long do we have to prepare?” Tucker glanced at his watch. “Seventeen hours and counting.”

Hesitations include the aforementioned explano-babble and perhaps the wish that we lingered a bit longer on the initial twenty-four hours of disbelief and reaction. I could have used a bit more evocative language, but that’s a fine line, and coming off a book that was excessive in it’s imagery, it was a welcome change.

Overall, I was hooked, and went on to the next the same night. I’m sure I amused the crowd at the hotel’s tiki bar as I read, but really, tell me it wasn’t a perfect moment: a warm Florida night, with steady breezes from the ocean, a melting cocktail by my side, a comfortable lounge chair, and me and Kindle under the half-hidden moon.

Three and a half sun-flares, rounding up.

I was positive this came to my attention through one of my friends, but when I look into friend reviews, it appears not. Amazon review after a deal? No idea. Serendipity, I guess.

About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
This entry was posted in Apocalypse & dystopia, Book reviews, Science fiction and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Darkness Begins (After the EMP #1) by Harley Tate

  1. Karl S says:

    Beautiful Review ! Your gunna make me spend more money huh ?

  2. nscovell says:

    How do you compare this book with One Second After by William R. Forstchen? That was another EMP-esq novel that has gained a great deal of recognition.

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