I found this book compelling and interesting. I love “civilization collapses” scenarios, so this was right up my street. I bought all the science fiction elements without a problem. This book was like a love song to rational thinking, as it shows one person after another in its huge cast solving problems with their lucid, reasonable minds. Although the novel tells you that people are out in the street attacking, robbing, and sexually assaulting each other, the reader doesn’t have to see too much of that. Instead you see stuff like an angry mob being quieted by a truthful speech. Or you have two embittered enemies who are both intelligent, honorable men sitting down together and solving their differences with the help of a moderator. I don’t think that is very realistic, but I love reading about it.
My favorite character was Lenny Plekhanov, and I just love the fact that he is a nerd with a disability who uses a wheelchair AND he is the sexy love interest. That made me so happy. When have you ever seen that? Immediately I started worrying that he was going to die, because usually the character with a disability dies, often smothered by a pillow for their own good. Sure enough, his life is under threat because he has a pacemaker and other implants that come in contact with his skin, and terrorists have released technology-destroying nano biotes that might stop all his machinery. I won’t tell you what happens. Anyway, everyone in the book might die at any time; they’re in a pretty dicey situation.
I am eager to read the second book, despite the fact that there was something bizarre about this one. All the characters are foaming mad about upholding the oaths that they swore. Everyone is constantly rabbiting on about who the president is going to be, and that the process has to follow the constitutional guidelines. If all technology were wiped out, and there was no food, and no transportation, and no communication, and people are running around killing each other, I don’t think anyone would care one iota who the president was or whether the government followed the rules on that. It would be the last thing on my mind, for sure. But these people are obsessed. In one scene, you have character A arresting character B to fulfill his oath. Character B telling character A the only thing that upsets him is that A is breaking his oath. Character C resigning so he doesn’t have to break his oath. Character D in torment over his oath. Really? I have never gotten the impression that politicos and four-star generals are very serious about the oaths they took to uphold the Constitution. But John Barnes is good enough that I’m willing to suspend my disbelief so that I can find out what happens next.