In Aurora, Illinois, Aubrey Wheeler is just trying to get by after her semi-criminal ex-husband split, leaving behind his unruly teenage son.
Then the lights go out—not just in Aurora but across the globe. A solar storm has knocked out power almost everywhere. Suddenly, all problems are local, very local, and Aubrey must assume the mantle of fierce protector of her suburban neighborhood.
Across the country lives Aubrey’s estranged brother, Thom. A fantastically wealthy, neurotically over-prepared Silicon Valley CEO, he plans to ride out the crisis in a gilded desert bunker he built for maximum comfort and security.
But the complicated history between the siblings is far from over, and what feels like the end of the world is just the beginning of several long-overdue reckonings—which not everyone will survive . . .
My thoughts: I found the premise of this book very interesting – for two reasons. Firstly the science, which the author notes is as accurate as he could get it thanks to some very clever scientists who advised him, and secondly the way Aubrey and Thom go about getting through the blackout.
The Sun is hugely important, without it we’d all die but it is also a volatile mass of gases and immense heat. Should it fire off a pulse like it does in this book, we’d all be in huge trouble. So much of the developed world relies on electricity. Think about all the ways you use it in a day – your mobile, laptop, tablet, the lights, the kettle, the toaster, all powered by electricity. And that’s before you leave the house!
When the blackout hits, at first, like most, Aubrey has a slight panic. She rushes off to the supermarket and stocks up. Forgetting that her freezer, oven and fridge all need power. But as time goes on, she adjusts. Her neighbours come together to plant vegetables and protect each other. They build a community. They get through it as a group.
Thom, for all his money and tech savvy, immediately heads for the hills. Or his fancy bunker. He’s hired staff and plans to only take his wife and kids. Even Aubrey is an afterthought. He doesn’t think about his loyal assistants or their families. Just himself and his needs. Unsurprisingly this starts to backfire.
People need people. That’s what I took away from this book. You need your neighbours, just as we all did in lockdown over the last two years, you need the people around you. If the only reason they’re with you because you’re paying them – well then they might just decide they’re better off elsewhere.
This is going to be made into a film, not surprising when you realise the author is a well known film writer, and that will be really interesting. While the events are something that everyone sees, in terms of the extreme solar activity, the main plot about Aubrey and Thom isn’t huge in scale, it’s small and about a local phenomenon – community, family.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.