Smashing plot: fast paced and complex with rising tempo toward a satisfying climax. Post-apocalyptic future based on realistic projections of both disasters and saved, renewed technologies from an American culture plausibly in our near future. A flawed main character who the reader comes to care about. Good character development through the first and second tiers of the cast. Ambiguous and conflicting motives. Interesting genetic variations among human groups. She brings the first volume to a satisfying conclusion while setting hooks to draw the reader into the next installation.
Why only three stars? The writing was so mediocre that only a commitment to read the whole thing kept me going. For example, one paragraph on the second page contains the following three clichés: “she’d show them”, speaking of odds as “slim to none”, and “one last act of defiance.” Several “as you know, Bob” conversations to relate back story to the reader.
Many hits against verisimilitude: A nine-year-old with “stubby little fingers”? A hundred and fifty years after a major city is destroyed, people know exactly what caused it, despite that technology no longer existing in their world? Norfolk, Virginia facing the Atlantic Ocean? Just a face mask and “quarantine labcoat” to protect against biohazard exposure? Heading “due north” from Norfolk, Virginia (without a boat) to a site forty miles west of Washington, D. C.? A team of people wear “form fitting” black suits and hoods, and the main character can’t make out which are men and which women? A “locked-on” “laser cannon” is fired, then an airship maneuvers out of the way of the incoming laser bolt?
Nice cover art.
A really good story idea crippled by inadequate research and editing. This is not Calhoun’s first novel. She should know better.
The setup and plot is good enough to merit risking the second in the series.