Review: “Afterburn,” Scott Nicholson

Pros: Intriguing
Cons: Not enough to make me want to read more
Rating: 3 out of 5

Scott Nicholson’s Afterburn: A Post-Apocalyptic Thriller (Next Book 1) was a fun read, but wasn’t enough to make me want to read more. The apocalypse came several years ago: intense solar storms wiped out all electronics, killed most of the population of the Earth, and mutated most of the rest. Actual human survivors are few and far between. Rachel (who’s half-mutated) and DeVontay are looking for more supplies and more people. They have a small family–a couple of teens, Rachel’s paranoid grandfather, and a hyper-intelligent mutated baby–they’re trying to support and protect. While they run into new people Lars and Tara and Tara’s little girl, their little family back at the military bunker they’re living in runs into a fragment of the remaining military. Rachel and DeVontay have to help rescue Tara’s girl from a Zap (mutant) who has taken her, while the rest of the family tries to keep the military from taking away everything they’ve worked so hard for.

The mutants are definitely not your run-of-the-mill zombies. Apparently they started out feral and vicious, but swiftly “evolved” and are now hyper-intelligent and advanced. They are relatively sexless, have identical haircuts and weird polymer jumpsuits, and are accompanied by realistic, self-repairing flying bird-drones. Of course, because they’re so unfathomable, and because of their initial violence, humans are determined to kill them. I thought the whole identical haircuts and robot-like behaviors at first weren’t interesting, but their behavior does become creepier as the story advances.

Unfortunately, the story back at the bunker wasn’t nearly as engrossing. The teenage characters feel fairly stereotypical. The conflict with the military felt just as stereotypical. It’s the usual military wanting to murder anything they don’t understand storyline. It may be justified within the story, but that doesn’t make it any more interesting. The only character in that storyline that I found engaging was a woman who used to be a PR person who joined the military after the apocalypse happened. She’s a nice combination of tough-yet-sympathetic.

As post-apocalyptic stories go this isn’t bad, and has some original material in it, but it just didn’t hold my interest sufficiently. I don’t plan to read the rest of the series.

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