Review Blog

Aug 13 2018

After the lights go out by Lili Wilkinson

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Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760297299
(Ages: secondary) Highly recommended. Themes: Armageddon, Dystopian novel, Preppers. When Pru rides into town, to see if others in the small community of Jubilee have also lost their power, she does so with trepidation. Dad is at work, a mine some ten hours drive away, her two younger sisters are left alone at their house fifteen kms from town, and they have all been drilled in their emergency procedure, run to the bunker and lock themselves in.
She must get to Dad, and remembers an old restored Holden in a shed and takes it to drive to the mine. With her is Mateo, sone of the woman contracted to talk about mine safety. Pru must be cautious, he keeps making cracks about preppers, and Pru is one. They find an explosion has ripped much of the mine apart, and that NASA warned of a solar storm which could knock out power. Pru knows this will lead to an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) which will render anything electronic useless. Stuck at the mine with fifteen or so wounded men, Mateo and his mother, and no sign of her missing father, Pru can only think of home where her two younger sisters wait for word, while a young man wanting to get closer to Grace, is riding out there.
Once in their bunker, the three sisters cycle each day to the town to help, not telling anyone of the goods they have stockpiled. But as each day passes, the moral imperative looms large for Pru as she realises that their medicine would help, but her sisters refuse to stray from their father's dictum, that family comes first. Eventually discovered, Pru has a lot of ground to make up to regain people's trust, and just when she appears to be redeeming herself, her father reappears.
This is a riveting read, a page turning thriller which will satisfy all readers. The idea of the prepper has added a variant to post apocalyptic stories such as "Lord of the Flies". There is a facebook page for Adelaide preppers, as well as lots of internet pages selling equipment to those who think the end is nigh.
This book puts into perspective the moral choices that these people will need to make, and on a wider front, the efforts of the west in having access to resources denied the Third World.
I kept thinking about its implications along time after I closed the book.
Fran Knight

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