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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Hard-to-Find Australian Doomsday Novel Tense, Gritty

(Image from Book Depository)

"I don't know who I am now the world is different" (261).

In the last three years, Rick Palmer has gone from a relatively normal father to a paranoid doomsday prepper.  After his wife took off, he poured his energy into educating himself and his three teenage daughters on how to survive the apocalypse he claims is imminent.  He drilled his kids on how to find water in the desert, how to conserve resources, how to set bones and perform emergency first aid, and most of all, how to slip out of their house and into their well-stocked bunker without giving away the secret of its existence.  Despite these frantic exercises, life in the Palmers' tiny Australian town is perfectly peaceful, even boring.  Prudence Palmer and her sisters are convinced their father is mad as the proverbial hatter.  They long for a normal, on-the-grid life full of the luxuries the other teens in town take for granted—smartphones, dates, regular school, parents who aren't off their rockers ...

Then, the lights go out in the Palmers' small village.  Communication with the outside world is cut off.  Confusion and chaos quickly replace order and reason.  With Rick missing—he hasn't returned from the distant mine where he works—it's up to Pru to decide the best way to keep herself and her sisters safe.  She knows she should retreat to the bunker immediately, but a chance meet-up with a handsome boy visiting from America, whose parent is also missing, gives her pause.  As fear and desperation settle over their once-peaceful town, Pru must ask herself some important questions.  Does she do what her father taught her and hoard her resources or defy his wishes and aid her helpless neighbors?  What kind of person is she really, when push comes to shove? 

I don't read as many dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels as I once did, but I still enjoy them when I do.  After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson was mentioned on some best-of-the-genre list, so I knew I wanted to read it.  It's not an easy book to get a hold of, though; luckily, Book Depository came through for me.  While there's nothing really original about After the Lights Go Out, it's still a tense, engrossing novel.  It's atmospheric, gritty, and compelling.  The plot moves quickly, the characters are intriguing, and the decisions Pru has to make throughout the story makes it a thought-provoking tale.  Like all books of this kind, it made me ask myself, "What would I do in this situation?"  It's an interesting thought.  All in all, then, I enjoyed this one, even if it's nothing I hadn't seen before.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of the Tomorrow, When the War Began series by John Marsden and lots of other dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of After the Lights Go Out from Book Depository with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.


  1. I love these kinds of books because they do make me question whether or not I could survive in a similar situation and what I would do if the worst happened. Great review! :)

  2. Like you, I haven't read dystopian for a while after reading so many a few years back. I just read the third Neal Shusterman Scythe book so it was fun to revisit the genre.

  3. I love dystopian novels as well. I don't know if you've read After the Flood by Kassandra Montag but it's quite interesting.

    I have to check this one out.

  4. I still read quite a bit of dystopian fiction and might even end up with three of them in my 2019 Top Ten list. I've heard good things about this one but haven't tried to find it yet, so thanks for the tip.


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