Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Book Review: Borrowed World by Franklin Horton


In a night of devastating terror, ISIS operatives have unleashed a coordinated attack on America’s infrastructure. Life as we know it in America grinds to a halt as the electrical grid collapses, communication networks are damaged, critical bridges and dams are destroyed, and major fuel refineries go up in massive fiery clouds. When the government responds by immediately halting fuel sales to the public, Jim Powell finds himself in a terrifying predicament – trapped five hundred miles from home with a group of coworkers.

With thousands of trapped travelers and scarce law enforcement, the miles between Jim and his family become a brutal gauntlet where the rules of civilized society no longer apply. As Jim puts his years of preparation and planning to the test, he is forced to ask himself if he has what it takes to make it home. Does he have the strength -- the brutality -- required to meet this new world toe-to-toe? 


My Review:
Jim and Gary are dedicated preppers, away from home at a work meeting when ISIS decide to attack the US, blowing up dams, bridges, oil refineries and electrical supplies, leaving the country suddenly crippled. The men realise that without fuel, they face walking 500 miles home through areas populated by people who will attack them for their supplies. And back home, Jim's wife Ellen turns to Jim's emergency manual, advising her on supply runs, home defence and trying to keep the family safe until he can reach her. It certainly sounded like the kind of book I enjoy so I grabbed a cheap Kindle copy to read, and I'm so glad that I did.

Some reviewers have mentioned that the book is full of steriotype characters. First, the bitchy women at the start that Jim works with. Alice was a 'by the rules' company autotron who frowned at Jim carrying an illegal weapon in a company vehicle. Rebecca was a sneering woman who found fault with everything Jim said or did, finding offense where none existed. Just because you believe preppers are paranoid, it's no reason to keep having a go at the guy who has already saved your ass several times! I don't think the author is really indicating that all women are useless whiners: Randi and Jim's wife being examples of very capable women. I think he is just showing the side of people who think all preppers are nuts and the prejudice that unprepared people sometimes have.

Back home, we also follow his wife Ellen as she tries to follow his prepper manual, gathering a few final supplies to add to their hoarded goods, loading their weapons and preparing emergency generators. She is also well aware, after a visit from a neighbour, that the government supported people in a nearby trailer park are going to be trouble as they seek to take supplies from their better prepared neighbours. A few reviewers indicated that perhaps the author thinks everyone on welfare is a dangerous scrounger. I didn't get that impression myself. I think this version of the bad element of society is there purely to add danger for Ellen and her family, as opposed to a statement of personal belief about all people on welfare. I am on the UK version of welfare because of ill health and I was not offended by the idea that some on welfare are like the people in this book-as it is true. Basically, you could find a lot of steriotype behaviour if you look for it in prepper based books but I was more interested in getting into the story than looking for political messages or trying to guess why certain characters said or did certain things. I do get, however, why some things in the book may have offended people.

In the opening chapters I admit I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book because of Jim's female colleagues. They really were pains in the ass! However, this part of the story doesn't last long and I was able to ignore them as the story gathered pace and interest. We have Jim's view of events as he takes the decision to shun the offer of going to a secure government camp to await help getting home. Instead, he, Gary and Randi take the decision to hike home on a rural trail in the hope of avoiding trouble and detouring to a small town where Jim can find supplies from a friend. Of course, that would be too simple, and Jim finds a mixture of frightened hikers and redneck psychos, all standing between him and home. I admit that I would have felt safer with the two armed men as I have a healthy distrust of these emergency camps-you could be stuck there for months before anyone gets round to helping you get home, with fuel running out. Much as I'm not an exercise fan, I think I might have gone walking!

The tension is high through the book. First we have Jim's group trying to get to safety as the breakdown in society begins, then we switch to Ellen trying to get everything done outside her home so she can lock the family away. Then Jim meets trouble on the trail while Ellen's run in with angry trailer park residents ramps up the tension. You just know that both parties are about to be knee deep in danger and I found myself turning the pages at a fast rate to find out what was going to happen next. As soon as you thought Jim was out of danger, Ellen was knee deep in it and vice versa. It kept up a fast pace and I really enjoyed every bit of it!

This was the first book I've read that was a full scale prepper novel. I was fascinated by the concept of being that ready for upcoming disasters, preparing the bag that you carry everywhere just in case, and all the instructions left for Ellen in the disaster manual. I loved the detail and I was really drawn into the prepper world for the first time. There is a lot of information in this book about home defence, gathering supplies and what you need in case you lose power, and it could easily be used as a guide for beginners starting their prepper journey. Add to that the fact that it is a fast paced disaster book and I was really enjoying everything the book had to offer.

I don't know if the author wanted to use this book to perhaps persuade people of the merits of prepping but he converted me. I now have basic supplies in my house to prepare for simple things like losing power in the house for a few days if we get a storm or power cut. I prefer to think of it as common sense rather than paranoia! I enjoyed this book so much that I bought a paperback copy of it and the next book in the series which I can't wait to read!
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