Sunday, September 2, 2012

After America by John Birmingham

Did I not write about John Birmingham's Without Warning, the prequel to After America? I guess not.

(And before you start going down the wrong path, After America is nothing like Fareed Zakaria's geo-political prognostication, The Post-American World.)

Here's the deal with Without Warning - everyone in the continental United States with the exception of the area around Seattle, everyone in Mexico, and most of the folks in Canada are inexplicably killed when an energy field (the Wave) descends over those countries. The Wave leaves plant life, most animals, and inanimate objects alone. Once you as reader make a leap of faith and accept the Wave as a plot device, it's very interesting to see how Birmingham portrays the worldwide reaction. At the end of Without Warning the Wave disappears as suddenly as it arrived.

You may rightly assume that I liked Without Warning. Otherwise, why would I be reading its sequel?

How does the new U.S. president (the former city manager of Seattle) rebuild this vast nation with its population virtually gone? Key are repatriation and immigration, but the latter riles some including the rogue governor of the Texas Administrative Division.

How does the president protect our borders when scores of pirates are looting the East Coast on a scale that makes the Rodney King riots look like a tussle during a sale at Filene's Basement? Is amputation sometimes the only way to save a life?

And let's just say the Israelis upset the apple cart with their actions in the wake of realizing the world's only superpower and their biggest supporter virtually no longer exists. And now some of those bad apples are looking for revenge.

Another thing that's notable about Without Warning and After America is that their stories revolve around three female characters. There's an assassin from an ultra-secret intelligence agency who's stalking a terrorist taking full advantage of the situation. There's a smuggler who pisses off some powerful people because she's actually a nice person at heart. And there's the daughter of an immigrant family come to get the U.S. back on its feet who craves revenge for what bandits did to her family.

I'm fully invested now and soon expect to add to my shelves the third and final book in the series, Angels of Vengeance. I've got to know how Birmingham works this all out.

John Birmingham's blog is Cheeseburger Gothic and he's on Twitter at JohnBirmingham.

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