Steven Bird’s first foray into the world of survival, post-apocalyptic fiction will certainly satisfy the fix that fans of this genre need on a regular basis.
It’s got an imaginative set of protagonists and a storyline that hooks you right away.
Our heroes are Evan Baird and Jason Jones, two airline employees that figured out each was a prepper and grew a friendship from there.
As readers might expect, travelling for a living is a very stressful way to live when you’re convinced the world is about to fall apart. Packing a Get Home Bag requires special care and attention. Of course, there are size and weight restrictions, as well as Transportation Security Agency rules that prevent carrying virtually anything you can use for self-defense.
Luckily, Baird and Jones have had time to devise a partnership and a plan.
So, when terrorists strike the U.S. in a coordinated and devastating fashion, these guys have quite a few daunting tasks facing them in their quest for survival. One, how to get out of New York City as civilized society quickly crumbles around them and the nine million people living there. And then, how to escape the densely populated East Coast to get back to their homes in Tennessee and Ohio.
In Bird’s telling of “The Last Layover,” he avoids unnecessary conversations and situations that some writers appear to use to fill space. Bird’s story moves at a quick pace without sacrificing content and the tension required for a good thriller.
As Baird and Jones begin their overnight in the Big Apple, the world falls apart. They must decide when to start the long walk home (after all, the government will fix everything, right?), and what to do with their fellow flight crew members.
Like so many good tales, some of the characters see the light through the darkness around them and evolve into the kind of people that survive TEOTWAWKI. Others do not.
Bird doesn’t weigh down the story by focusing too long on any of the cast of characters that don’t get it. Meanwhile, through wit, aggression, guile and a little luck, our heroes can make a thrilling getaway. But do they succeed?
What readers should love is that the book it not heavily weighted with a detailed, harrowing trip as Baird and Jones try to make their way home. Somehow, despite a nice pace, the trip is as compelling as any of the like-minded writers offer in the genre.
While some readers may quibble over the ability of these guys to make instant lasting friends when civilized society disintegrates, Bird makes it believable by not going overboard.
And maybe that’s really what makes this book such an interesting and necessary read. Like Angery American and Franklin Horton, Steven Bird has not written “prep porn” or a thinly disguised text book. It is entertaining, thrilling, and readers will want to take notes.
Few writers effectively tackle the idea that everyday citizens face, even when they are preppers, traveling far and wide for work. Horton does in “The Borrowed World” and American does in “Going Home,” but both are set up for a trip of a few hundred miles from home, and neither tackle 1,000 miles from home nor a major metropolitan area. (Subsequently, American does take this issue in “Charlie’s Requiem.”) Combine the length of the trip with the restrictions of working for an airline, and you have a challenge that few would ever want to face.
In this case, Bird wrote a winner, and it is worth reading.
“The Last Layover” is available for $9.99 at Walmart, and Amazon.