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Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival Joe Nobody

11th December 2012 Literature & Fiction 22 Comments

In the year 2015, the world is burdened by the second Great Depression. The United States, already weakened by internal strife, becomes the target of an international terror plot. A series of attacks results in thousands of casualties and disables the country’s core infrastructure. The combination of economic hardship and the staggering blow of the terror attacks results in a collapse of the government. This is a realistic story of how an average, middle class couple survives the cascading events brought on by international politics, high tech military actions and the eventual downfall of society. All of their survival skills are tested during the action packed expedition in a world that resembles the American West of 200 years past.

I was compelled to stay up all night, mesmerized by the story line.I was absolutely absorbed by the plot.Can the authorwho writes instruction guidespossess the skills necessary to tell a story and hold a reader? The answer is an emphatic, "Yes, he does."

Holding Their Own is a great story for any Prepper that wants to take a break from non-fiction "how to" books in favor of easy, fun entertainment.The book is so good I added it to the List of 70 Great SHTF Fiction Books…

For our descriptive (versus qualitative) ratings (1 to 7 with 7 being highest)…I will give it a reluctant 7. For readability… I am going to say that it is a 6…

As I conceived this story, one of my biggest challenges was to create a fictional, economic collapse that would seem realistic to the reader. When I actually began writing, I couldn’t help but notice how disconcerting economic news seemed to dominate the headlines with increasing frequency. Things got a little surreal as I would write fiction and then watch similar real-life events unfold on the nightly newscast. The riots in Greece and France, economic protest in London, and budget gridlock in Washington, D.C. all seemed to coincide with the pretend world being created inside my word processor. The Texas wildfires of 2011added another example. It was a little uncanny at times how I would finish a section and then watch it being played out in real life. Honestly, I wasn’t trying to write a script for cable news. As we were finishing the final edits, economic protests led to fires and violence in Oakland.

At one point my editor even suggested we consider accelerating the timeline in the book.
All the while, Holding Your Ground(my first book) was climbing in sales, eventually making the top 100 Best Sellers on Amazon. The emails, letters, and customer reviews all relayed the same basic message: Thank you for writing the book. It helped. People are concerned, some even frightened, and the book made them feel like they can have some control, regardless of future events.

I pray the remainder of my work remains purely fictional.

Holding Your Ground played a greater role in this book than one might think. More than anything else, I consider myself a problem solver and teacher. My experience as an instructor has proven that some people learn well using an instructional guide like Holding, while others do better with a scenario, or story based environment.

This led to my desire to write a novel (or story) that utilized the methods described in Holding while using "real life" situations. Enjoy!

I was compelled to stay up all night, mesmerized by the story line.I was absolutely absorbed by the plot.Can the authorwho writes instruction guidespossess the skills necessary to tell a story and hold a reader? The answer is an emphatic, "Yes, he does."

Holding Their Own is a great story for any Prepper that wants to take a break from non-fiction "how to" books in favor of easy, fun entertainment.The book is so good I added it to the List of 70 Great SHTF Fiction Books…

For our descriptive ratings …I will give it a reluctant 7. For readability… I am going to say that it is a 6…

Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival

  • 22 responses to "Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival Joe Nobody"

  • Mikem
    5:31 on December 11th, 2012
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    I was compelled to stay up all night, mesmerized by the story line in “Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival” by Joe Nobody. I had previously enjoyed one of the author’s earlier works, really liked the information in that book, and was intrigued by the idea of a novel written by the same person.
    I have to admit I was absolutely absorbed by the plot. The other book I had read by Joe Nobody was more like a technical manual, and frankly it was very good. But could an author who was so direct and to the point possess the skills necessary to tell a story and hold a reader?
    The answer is an emphatic, “Yes, he does.”
    “Holding Their Own” is a novel like none other I have read, and I am the kind of person who enjoys well-written prose from a number of genres. The plot would interest anyone who has ever enjoyed a good shoot out at the OK Corral, as well as the softies who enjoy a love interest. The bad guys are easy-to-hate, terrorists who seek to overthrow the U.S. government. The primary conflict in the story is more apocalyptic, however, and centers around the precarious balance we have enjoyed as a society tipping in the wrong direction, leading to civil unrest and eventually the fall of civilization as we know it. All the while, the story reflects good character development, the relationship between the protagonists is endearing, and their internal conflict over their choices in the fight to survive is unenviable. There is something here for everyone.
    The premise of the conflict is disconcertingly believable and alarmingly simple. In the beginning of the book where the stage is set and the terrorists implement their plan, I was shocked at the very modest scheme conceived by the antagonists; it was much more believable than the idea of coordinated assaults on major airlines, i.e., the 9/11 attacks.
    The protagonists, Bishop and Terri, are lovable and competent “preppers.” Hailing from Houston, they have “bugged out” a few times before during hurricane season. In fact most of the story is set in Texas, and those who call the Lonestar State home will have a special treat as they recognize landmarks and familiar surroundings. The characters and setting are well-developed and presented. The story does a remarkable job of weaving in different plot elements in different geographical locations and really keeps the reader engaged by it.
    What I found to be so fascinating was the way the story of survival integrates the principles and tools recommended in the technical manual. For anyone who is concerned about what might really happen if society were to collapse and how to survive it, this book is for you. For anyone who wants a solid plot full of international intrigue, this book is for you. For anyone who is looking “for a good read,” this book is for you. For anyone who has ever enjoyed a story about the Wild West, this book is for you.

  • Bob Vance
    6:45 on December 11th, 2012
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    Flynn has done a wonderful job creating a novel that is both exciting to read and also makes clear how truly vulnerable the global community has become. The economic downturn that he forecasts is not only entirely possible, but also looks more and more likely as our financial and political leaders become more and more desperate to cling to what they have accumulated.

    He cleverly and unobtrusively considers how other civilizations before ours have grown and fallen and shows that a society as complex as ours has become is not only destined to fall, but to fall quickly and deeply when the time inevitably comes.

    Set against this background of global collapse, Flynn astutely examines the different ways in which people will try to cope (and how most will fail to cope) when everything falls apart. As they say, forewarned is forearmed, and this novel certainly gives us a great deal to think about. It is distinctly possible that the future is not as secure as many of us might think. “Shut Down” shows us why this could be the case and some of the things we need to start doing to get ready for it.

    As for me, I might just take up the study of dentistry. :-)

  • Melisa Gaiter
    6:58 on December 11th, 2012
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    This is one of those “can’t-put-it-down” books. The plot is fast moving and exciting yet has splashes of very romantic writing laced through out. It mostly takes place in Houston, and is about a devoted couple that decides to “bug out” after a government collapse. They are a team and there’s nothing chicken about either one. They work their way through the adventures of trying to reach their ranch in West Texas, without getting robbed, killed or tortured by the looters and other bad guys, yet they need supplies to keep them going, and will do almost anything to get gas and food. The author incorporates many serious ideas and methods for survival and yet the main characters keep their sense of humor and devotion to each other. Again, it is fast moving. I laughed out loud a few times, and teared up once. Is this author entertaining? Yes, yes, yes.

  • Jennifer Strong
    9:28 on December 11th, 2012
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    I am an amateur prepper. Since experiencing this novel, I have a new perspective about defending my self/family/possessions if I have to work alone, without the help of law enforcement/electricity/or a moral society. This novel is not a story about HOW to prepare, but instead a refreshing story line about defending the preparation the young couple have managed. The novel has all the right guy/girl elements and will be equally enjoyed by either!! I couldn’t put it down, and feel so much more ready if the unthinkable happens! Now I can put the other Joe Nobody books into action…I do learn better from fiction!

  • Pierre
    13:13 on December 11th, 2012
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    Mr Flynn has obviously researched or lived closely with his subject. It’s very easy to meld with his characters and live through this death and rebirth of society. For survivalists this read is vindication. For the rest of us it should be a wake-up call. This author is now added to my watch list. I want more.

  • It's official!
    15:52 on December 11th, 2012
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    Mr. Flynn’s book is a must read during these troubled financial times. His insights into the complex factors that are contributing to our fiscal woes is remarkable. It’s time to start looking out for yourself and your family.

  • Sneak Peaker
    16:25 on December 11th, 2012
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    Plausible story. OK character development. Author failed to take advantage of situations to build excitement before climax. He rushes his conclusions. Lacks detail in crucial areas. Stilted dialogue throughout and laughable for minority characters. Not bad, but for better written doom and gloom try “One Second After” or “World Made by Hand”.

  • Trix the Rabbit
    16:39 on December 11th, 2012
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    This is one of the many books I’ve read about society coming apart. By far, it’s one of the most well thought out stories I’ve come across. Not too over the edge, not too boring….just right. I’m eagerly awaiting more titles from this author, and would highly recommend picking up this book.

    23:11 on December 11th, 2012
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    This book absolutely nails it! For a first-time author, Flynn has created a terrifying, yet completely realistic novel as frightening as anything Stephen King ever wrote, and I am a huge fan of Stephen King!

    The big difference with Flynn’s horror tale is that it’s not a disaster or horror novel in the traditional sense. It’s not a doomsday scenario brought about by supernatural forces, divine intervention, a natural disaster or a madman’s act of war. Instead, it’s a deep, complete collapse story that’s real and actually happening right now, right before our very eyes. And that is what sent shivers up my spine as I read this novel and has utterly ruined more and a few nights of sleep, for me. He made the story seem just so real!

    Flynn stitches and weaves together a fatal economic, social and political disaster brought about by fiscal mismanagement, resource wars, resource depletion (in particular, peak oil), overpopulation, greed, and a sudden, Monday morning wave of bank failures

    The handful of interesting characters Flynn creates seem secondary to the important message this book brings forth. The message conveyed is that humanity must alter its present course or else a historically unprecedented disaster will inevitably occur. The story moves around the world describing the disastrous impact delivered by the collapse of the world’s tightly interconnected banking structure. He accurately describes the setting in Shanghai as unemployment, hunger and despair bring civil unrest to that magnificent city in my homeland. He addresses the ethnic Han treatment, or mistreatment, of the Uyghurs as the simmering, slow-motion civil war in Xinjiang suddenly explodes.

    It was refreshing to (finally) see a work of political fiction deliver a pair of prepping, self-defense trained Chinese American females (sisters) as key, action heros. This is something we rarely see in American action-fiction (rarely see anywhere outside of kung-fu fantasy movies) and Flynn does a masterful job integrating the family’s deeply-held Buddhist beliefs into their selfless love of family and community. Flynn retains the stereotype of the straight-A student, but completely destroys the misplaced image of the meek, obedient and timid Asian female. Thank you! That stereotype is just so wrong.

    The USA, and particularly rural America, is filled with brave Afghan and Iraq war veterans and he uses quite a few of these well-trained warriors, in the up-close and personal battle scenes as the isolated community in Oregon fights for its survival.

    Although the time-setting is not clearly told, it could be today and THAT makes it even more terrifying. Read this book. Have some calming tea ready because you’ll need it. This book is a rock-solid five star.

  • Aaron Landry
    1:25 on December 12th, 2012
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    It seems that for the longest time when family or friends discovered you are a ‘Prepper’ they would scoff and snicker. As the economic troubles in our nation persist, and in my opinion worsen, some of those folks are asking how they can now prepare for themselves; the ‘crazies’ it appears are not so crazy, afterall. I read Shut Down in two days and did thoroughly enjoy it. Yes there are flaws as there are with most works that do not have major publishers backing them. However, this is a book one can pass on to friends and family that will help shake them out of their slumber. Can the events in the novel come true? Well…let’s ask a few questions:

    Is our government still borrowing money at a nauseating pace…YES!

    Is our governemt still printing money…YEP!

    Is our governemt spending money like a drunk sailor with no end in sight…UH HUH!

    Has our government eased regulations to entice businesses to return jobs to our shores? NOPE! (Say what you will about those greedy fat cats, I for one have never worked for a poor guy.

    So, I ask, just what is taking place that leads folks to think things will get better? Everything I see happening tells me it will be getting worse. In the Great Depression we had countless soup lines. Today we have extended unemployment benefits, free healthcare, subsidized housing, food stamps… (security nets not in place during the Great Depression). Imagine the climate in America right now if these programs did not exists?

    Shut Down is a quick read that lays out rather clearly just how fast things can ‘Shut Down’. I do not read this type of literature for the author’s grasp on grammatical elegance…I read it to focus my mind on areas I may have neglected to give proper attention to. In my opinion, Mr. Flynn has done a stand up job of that. If I have to voice one complaint it would be that the novel was too brief! He could have easily fleshed it out and added a couple hundred more pages.

    And one more note about the editing and errors we unpaid critics complain so much about. Major publishing houses do not seem to interested in these types of stories and yet we as readers hunger and thirst for more of them. If we wait for ‘FAT CAT’ publishers to take them on, what will we have to read?

    Mr. Flynn I encourage you to keep writing and I eagerly await the next yarn to spin from the end of your pen. Thank you for your efforts…I happen to know it is not always easy.

  • Timmy G
    6:26 on December 12th, 2012
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    A new entry in the online type disaster/collapse novels similar to what we are getting from Absolved and others from the discontented right. This time we get the view from the Pacific Northwest. Normally one thinks of that area as being eco-freaks and trendinistas of the white kids who supported Obama. But what we get here is the reality of race relations when the SHTF. Aside from gardening, which our elders developed an appreciation for during WWII, not much that the SWPL contributed, and it was the white working class that survived in the end; the traditional skills of that they have. I hope the author has a sequel.

  • Eamonn
    10:06 on December 12th, 2012
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    The novel is an exciting, action-filled story of fear, hardship, survival and ultimately, peace. Centered in today’s world, and with events that read like the newspaper headlines, the book’s characters face the sudden demise of their comfortable world as the systems we all depend upon collapse with remarkable rapidity. When a new governmental effort to balance the budget collides with a failed military effort in the Middle East, systemic failure rapidly engulfs the world. An all-too-believable crisis combines with a tale of courage, fear, pain, and a hint of romance as people change and adapt or perish. I enjoyed the book, and recommend it highly.

  • Jason Jee
    11:32 on December 12th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    First off, I enjoyed the book. Almost 5 stars. If you are from the Northwest I am sure you will be better able to relate to the geography. I think part of why the book is not 5 stars to me is I like this genre more when it relates to people with skill levels of the average person, me. I guess it does point out that if you have the average set of skills, like me, and you believe the future may be like in the book, which to an extent is is possible, then I better get some training. Aside from this, it is a very good book. Relevant in that an EMP blast takes down the infrastructure, as Sen Bartlett has said 90% of the population will be dead in a year. This story is about the 10%. The storyline is well thought out and hits many of the beliefs of the preppers out there. It does do some thinking beyond what I normally would, in a post-apoc town, how big a population can be supported… pseudo-Malthus stuff… makes you think where you would like to live, definitely not in a small cabin by yourself. Worth the read.

  • peter griffin
    15:30 on December 12th, 2012
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    This book is fantastic on two levels.

    First, for those who enjoy “collapse” type stories, this is a worthy addition to the genre. As mentioned by a previous reviewer, the author does a great job showing how our current economic situation could easily spiral into the collapse scenario that is the background for this story. No need for supernatural or far-fetched catastrophe. The reality of how easily this could really happen makes it all the more powerful. The author deftly creates characters we can all relate to (for better or worse) and covers all the important bases for a good SHTF novel. Family/community relationships, security, preparations (or lack thereof), zombies (just kidding, no zombies in this one – but definitely realistic gang and criminal elements). If you like this stuff, read this book!

    Second, this book is a good one to buy extra copies of to hand out to friends and loved ones to get them thinking and hopefully preparing for what might be some pretty tough times in the future. The author has packed a ton of information into a book that is disguised as a simple adventure story that just about anyone would enjoy. It’s only after you’ve finished the book that you realize how much you’ve learned. This book is a great way to start important conversations with neighbors, friends, spouses, etc. (I’ve already purchased additional copies to share with friends.) Timely, Entertaining, Educational…I can’t ask for much more in a book.

    I’ll echo other reviewers…I’m looking forward to Volume II!

  • Silly person
    17:25 on December 12th, 2012
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    This is a good book. I enjoyed the dialogue between the lead character and his wife. The situations seemed real enough. Author uses good descriptions and the plot is believable up to a point. I won’t spoil the ending, but it is decent. Not a let down, but it does leave one scratching one’s head in disbelief. As for most authors and stories go in this genre, I am quite pleased with my purchase of this book and can see myself re reading it in the future. Doesn’t get too technical but it informs as well as entertains.

  • hardtohandle
    18:12 on December 12th, 2012
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    This is a good read – I have a new apocalypse author to follow. The book is not fantasy reading, but more like a combination of a good techno-thriller (Clancy), with a little Demille thrown in (the main character is sarcastic and funny as hell). All of that is topped off with a fine Lamoue Western, complete with gunfights. The author pulls it all off. You will like the good guys, hate the bad guys and learn some cool survival tricks in the process. I even laughed out loud a few times and in one chapter my eyes watered up just a tad. Entertaining is a good word.
    This is a big book. The price initially turned me off for an unknown author but then I found out the guy was some sort of survival expert and I enjoy those TV shows. If you are into survivalism, or just like a good action/adventure story – this is worth the money.

  • Bristolboy
    18:46 on December 12th, 2012
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    On top of being one of those books this not-so-avid reader could not put down until I was finished, there is much wisdom to be gleaned from this novel.

    The author is an excellent weaver, providing many levels of understanding and food for thought whether the reader is familiar with the background concepts or not.

    This level of sophistication clearly comes from his depth of life experiences, mirroring the complex connections within our society.

    Unlike many novels these days, it does not invoke anything supernatural, it merely presents our inevitable course of events.

    I urge fellow readers to pass this gem onto friends and family to present a united front with a goal to stop kicking the can down the road and deal with current issues and events, or face the destiny presented in Shut Down by William Flynn.

    I’m with TheTurtle – time to dig out the Basil Hayden, read this again and research dentistry as a vocation until the sequel arrives!

  • Brittanicus
    23:13 on December 12th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Being a fan of Joe Nobody’s other two books, Holding Your Ground and TEOTWAWKI Tuxedo, I picked this book up as well. It looks like “Joe” partnered with a few others to take the non-fictional Holding Your Ground and wrote a fictional piece that incorporates some of the Holding Your Ground elements. The book really stands on its own, though. If you’re a fan of apocalypse and post-apocalypse fictional novels, you should read this book. A series of events happen that creates a perfect storm for widespread pandemonium. Set in Texas, a man and a woman set to “bug out” to their retreat, but have to do so post-event, navigating dangerous terrain and encountering interesting scenarios along the way. It reads fast. Usually non-fiction writers have a hard time moving to fiction, but this book didn’t let me down.

  • Steve Poppe
    4:29 on December 13th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Well, a lot of doom and gloom. All of the characters seem to have the same names as the author’s friends and relatives who did the reviewing for the typos, flow, etc., somewhat unsuccessfully.

    While the book was interesting regarding his perception of daily life in a post-economic-collapse Oregon society, I was put off by his heavy handed approach in the Corbett scenes, e.g., a town unofficial community leader responding in a brutish manner to a legitimate question by another town citizen–possibly reflecting the author’s own personality: e.g., a “might makes right” philosophy. The author apparently didn’t understand that some people just don’t have it in them, and it’s no reason to condemn them or make them out to be less than a human being. That’s Nazism. There was an excessive amount of narrative (page after page after page) describing how the economic collapse came about. Twenty-five percent of that would have been sufficient to background the plot line.

    Some things didn’t follow, such as the town of Corbett having a population of 4500+, yet not having a police force, doctor or dentist, or supermarket(s), one or more major gas stations, etc. The plot concerned their constant anxiety that they will run out of gas and have to conserve every drop by prohibiting the use of motor vehicles, even slashing the tires of one resident’s, and taking his gas without his consent; using only bikes, scooters and small motorcycles. There is no mention of horses or mules. It would seem that most aspects of a small community were left out in order to further the plot, to a probably unrealistic degree.

    In “Lights Out” by D. Crawford, in a similar situation, the rural subdivision community almost immediately sets up a command post (CP), a central location for controlling the community security (perimeter op/lp’s, gate guards, patrols, etc.). No mention of that here. Curiously, there also is no mention of the use of hand-held 2-way radios, or small generators to charge batteries, etc. Then, author Flynn uses the term “static patrol” to apparently mean observation and listening posts, apparently being unfamiliar with military tactics and terms. His citizen security patrols (consisting of almost all of the main characters) are 12 hours long, every day, and then having to put in a few hours in the fields as well, a wonder how they could remain fresh and alert. Apparently out of 4500+ residents, they didn’t recruit enough volunteers to make up more patrols and shorter patrol stints. Also, there is much talk about conserving ammunition, but no mention of anyone being a reloader (of fired cases). Certainly there would be at least a few in a Western Community that size.

    A big problem was the author’s constant references to actual topography known only to him and readers living in the area where the story takes place. descriptions not clear, the reader can only guess what and where. Should have been more descriptive terms used to describe locations, relationships and movement. A map/diagram(s) of the locations would have been nice. There was also constant use of the author’s clif-hanger asides to the reader: “never to be seen again, etc.” Oh? Why? Not further explained. The author tended to repeat some descriptions.

    Apparently this was author’s first attempt at a post-apocalyptic novel, and the lack of technical knowledge and experience showed.

  • Blups
    7:40 on December 13th, 2012
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    I like this genre of books; but in this case the story is a bit weak and I walked away from it thinking to myself that it offered nothing to the genre as a whole. It’s an easy read and there was just enough (although entirely predictable) suspense to keep me from putting it down: but if I were pressed I wouldn’t recommend it as a read for a survivalist/prepper that reads this genre frequently. The protagonist (Bishop) is apparently the luckiest man alive; everything seems to work out for him every time. I can only hope that the post-SHTF world will be this kind to me.

  • mobeerdon
    8:18 on December 13th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    The set up for the melt down of the economy is well explained and reasoned even if the events happen more rapidly than is plausible. The biggest problem with this book is the characters. To say they are cliche and 2 dimensional would do a disservice to all the other cliche and 2 dimensional characters ever written. The plot premise is good but the human elements made this almost impossible finish. At best 2.5 stars but I rounded up to be generous. A better choice wold be Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse or Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse.

  • JD Painterguy
    11:45 on December 13th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Flynn doesn’t waste much time with foreshadowing, the pace of the story matches the pace of events foretold, fast! He does give the reader some backdrop, but does it mostly within the context of the present (a character, usually Kelly, doing research). Most of the book focuses solely on the main characters involved in the struggle. It’s almost as if he wants the reader to feel as isolated & curious as the stranded survivors, aching for knowledge of the rest of mankind.

    The characters are developed just right for the story, which is essentially an action novel. The pace is just right to make the book hard to put down. I consumed the full 307 pages in one sitting. The action is fairly believable, especially considering the backdrop of spiraling recession, increasing crime & decreasing public funding for the cities & towns involved. I’m a little skeptical of the idea of massive dieoff within just a month or two (everyone mows each other down and/or starves within that time). A healthy man can go over a month without food & people become incredibly resourceful when pushed to the limits. I admit I found the revenging gangs reducing the population of hundreds of thousands to a handful or two in just a few weeks to be a bit of a stretch.

    That said, I’m a believer in prepared for all things, there are so many vulnerabilities in our ultra-connected & quite delicate modern industrial world (hence my title : Jenga, the bank collapse being the final block removed causing it all to come crumbling down). Maybe I should try to make friends in my local farming community. :)

    The major battle scenes in the novel reminded me of one of my favorite movies, the Seven Samurai, as a fine display of the power of organization & skill over brute force & superior numbers.

    Flynn fills a major niche with this book, there are many apocalyptic novels out there but few transition from the present to the projected future so fluidly & without any supernatural devices. I’m very hopeful he’ll keep writing & create some equally compelling sequels. Like the people of Corbett, I’m dying to know not only what their future holds but snippets of information from the rest of the world!

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