Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Fall Of Eden - Richard Michaels


The Fall Of Eden
Richard Michaels
Berkley

Thriller

There’s an old saw that tells us that civilization is really only three hot meals away from anarchy. When Charles Spencer and his family boarded a plane to St. Bart’s, civilization was, too all appearances, ticking along nicely. By the time they landed, it was gone forever. The news is spotty, garbled, and slow to arrive, but soon it’s clear that some nuclear exchange has destroyed most of the northern hemisphere. What isn’t gone is left in charred, irradiated ruin.

News like that is hard to take in, and Charles, being an English professor and cautious by nature, wants to take the wait-and-see approach. His younger brother, Dan, a military man like their father, has no plans to wait. Almost instantly upon hearing the news, he arms himself and secures the food and water supplies at their resort destination by enlisting most of the staff. While he’s appalled at the time, Charles admits that, later, he would come to truly respect his brother’s quick thinking.

The characters here are all located in a beautiful tropical paradise when they hear the news; that makes the reality that much more distant and surreal. Charles’ daughter, Chloe, finally believes it when she can’t reach anyone at all on her cell phone. Charles is the type of guy who values his education above all else, and desperately wishes that he could use simple logic to make survival decisions – and feel good about them. Mixed in all this is dealing with his father’s disapproval over his academic-track life and his brother’s apparent feelings of superiority due to his time in the military. It makes a sad sort of sense that, even at the end of the world, he’s still got to deal with family issues that began when he was a child.

THE FALL OF EDEN a very believable and disturbing account of an Everyman facing the end of civilization (and possibly humanity) as he knows it, and doing his best to live to see tomorrow. Charles is always unsure that this ‘new’ him is a better him; maybe it’s just him, regressed to a savage state. He tells the story in first-person, and while there’s quite a bit of introspection (when better than when the world ends?) there’s still plenty of action, and some plot twists that I never saw coming. The story ends fairly abruptly, but even that seemed to fit with the slightly disjointed feel of this not-so-brave new world.

Rating: 8
November 2009
ISBN# 978-0-425-22994-1 (trade paperback)

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