There is a scene in “Charlie’s Requiem” that was so compelling I had to put the book down and take a breath. As it played out, the pilots of a commercial airliner, full of passengers bound for Disney World, had to make an emergency landing after an EMP strike killed the plane’s electronics. And that’s when it hit me, these guys are really good writers.
But I didn’t know that when I first purchased the 2015 novella that launched a companion series to the popular “Going Home” series.
Being fairly new to the modern version of the fictional post-apocalyptic survival genre, I wasn’t sure what I was getting.
I did know that since the days of “The Stand” or “Lucifer’s Hammer,” the publishing game had changed for all genres and there were a lot of self-published or small publishing house books flooding the market with sloppy editing and beginner level prose. I assumed the survival genre was certainly in that number, and I knew this genre wasn’t exactly burning up the New York Times best sellers list.
But despite all that, I knew the Survival Industry was growing. So, it made sense that in this new publishing world aspiring authors could get their products to market whether it was good or not. And as I purchased this novella, I wondered which of these I was getting.
In the case of “Charlie’s Requiem,” I had gravitated to the book because I was a city dweller intrigued by the concept of surviving an EMP in an urban setting. In addition, it was going to be my first experience with A. American, a prolific post-apocalyptic survival writer, and I felt with this novella I could dive into the genre without having to invest a lot of money and time.
Judging the book by its cover, it would be easy to confuse the co-auther Walt Browning as the more typical action-adventure author simply because he’d been compared to quality writers like James Patterson and Dan Brown, and his name is normal. But the reality is that this Ohio born athlete-doctor-author had only found his literary voice in the last few years with “The Book of Frank.” He is a talented writer, yet still arguably new to the industry.
A. American (the A stands for Angery) could be considered equally new to the literary scene, if you consider four years experience as new. On the surface, it appears that he jumped on the modern apocalyptic survival genre bandwagon just as it was taking off a few years ago and as many preppers were railing against a newly re-elected President Obama. But I learned shortly after reading “Charlie’s Requiem” that he’d been writing for some time on websites where aspiring authors bravely perfect their skills in public, and it was that public feedback that inspired Angery American to publish the first of his popular “Going Home” series.
I don’t know about you, but for this reviewer, ignorance is never bliss.
And so 11 books and two listings on the USA Today Best Sellers list later, A. American has proven that he is a talented writer who knows how to grab large audiences and keep them coming back for more. More importantly, as a practicing survivalist for nearly two decades before his writing career, American has the chops to back up what he writes about.
In “Charlie’s Requiem,” the American/Browning writing duo introduces us to Charlie, an attractive pharmaceutical drug rep, as she makes a call on one of her favorite doctors in Orlando.
While’s she’s visiting the doctor’s office, an EMP strikes. In a flash, one of Florida’s largest cities submerges into chaos as a million metropolitan residents and tens of thousands of tourists start dealing with the end of modern civilization as we know it, and the food and medicine shortages that quickly follow.
In the meantime, Charlie needs to figure out how to get home while helping her friend Dr. Jerry Kramer deal with the elderly patients stuck in his office, all while avoiding rampaging criminal gangs, desperate citizens and tourists, a crazed killer, and a federal government that has forgotten the definition of “civil service.”
Along the way, we pick up some important characters that provide the full measure of a well-rounded and exciting story. In particular Jorge Vasquez whom we met at the aforementioned forced airline landing, and John Drosky, an experienced police officer who ultimately gets an inside look at the inner workings of the Department of Homeland Security after the EMP cripples the nation.
As the story moves from novella to the full-blown novel “Democide,” the characters’ travels require brains and some luck as they avoid the worst elements of a devolving civilization and a corrupted government pretending to assist its citizens.
While Charlie is trying to get home, Jorge is trying to get his family to safety, and Drosky is navigating life as an officer for a government corrupted by new level of control over its citizens. In a parallel story, other characters find a new threat so potentially evil that the aftermath of that discovery could be devastating.
Anyone familiar with Angery American’s previous works will recognize a theme of distrust for an oversized, overreaching government as a recurring element of his storylines. But while many may belittle this viewpoint, there are, unfortunately, too many real life examples of a corrupted government that fuel believable and gut-wrenching situations making this thriller hard to put down. In fact, this feature of the authors’ vision literally extends to the very last page of “Democide” when one of its characters has a revelation that can only be rivaled by a couple of iconic Charlton Heston movies – “Planet of the Apes” and “Soylent Green.”
Here’s the bottom line: the excitement of the controlled crash landing mentioned earlier is a recurring experience readers should enjoy in both “Charlie’s Requiem” and “Charlie’s Requiem: Democide.”
And if this duo continues to work together for the rest of this series, it will offer all the taut, heart-pounding action readers desire. Of course, make sure you’re medically cleared for this kind of action and don’t hesitate to take extra time to catch your breath. You’ll need it.