FICTION,  NETGALLEY,  SCIENCE FICTION

BOOK REVIEW : IF DARKNESS TAKES US BY BRENDA MARIE SMITH

I no longer trusted the sun. I kept half an eye on it, night and day. I told myself that the sun would not go full rogue on us and send a pulse to suck our atmosphere away, but I had a hard time believing it….

– IF DARKNESS TAKES US (BRENDA MARIE SMITH)

TITLE : If darkness takes us

AUTHOR : Brenda Marie Smith

GENRE : Sci-fi, Adult

FBRC RATING : 3 stars

BLURB :

IN SUBURBAN AUSTIN, TEXAS, BEA CRENSHAW SECRETLY PREPARES FOR THE APOCALYPSE. But when a solar pulse destroys modern life, she’s left alone with four grandkids whose parents do not return home. She must teach these kids to survive without power, cars, phones, running water, or doctors in a world fraught with increasing danger.

If Darkness Takes Us is realistic post-apocalyptic fiction with a focus on a family in peril, led by a no-nonsense grandmother who is at once funny, controlling, and heroic in her struggle to hold her family together with civility and heart. 

FBRC REVIEW :

DISCLAIMER : I received an ARC( advance review copy) of this book for free from NetGalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. Thank you, NetGalley and SFK press for providing me with an e-ARC of this book.

Let me start out by saying that the cover is stunning. The synopsis pulled me in and got me really intrigued. The story is of a 70 yr old grandmother who is in charge of her 4 grandkids and their journey to survival in a post-apocalyptic world. The story is set in Austin, Texas. A solar magnetic pulse has taken out out the power grid and all the electronic and electrical systems forcing the country into darkness. With no electricity, no running water, less food, and no government or law or doctors the world descends into chaos. Bea Crenshaw has lived most of her life under the shadow of her husband. She is by no means a submissive silent wife. She is strong, capable and crafty. She is teased and mocked for her tendency to store things. Yet it is this habit of hers that helps her survive in the darkness while others around her are forced to depend on her for basic necessities. I have to say her being paranoid about a possible apocalypse and smartly planning to overcome any problems that she might face is what makes this character so interesting. She is clever with the money and space and has this undying affinity for knowledge. She has meticulously and successfully crafted out a plan to cope with any disaster.

Though she has planned for a lot of events she still feels the panic and fear of having to face the problems. She is very human in the way she thinks about things and if she should share the resources she has with people or should she keep it for her family. She is seen struggling with the choices she needs to make making the practical side of her war with the moral conscience and emotional side of her. Despite her husband not being good to her and generally not understanding she chooses to stay for the sake of her family. Bea is a strong character with a lot of strengths and weaknesses that make her relatable and human.

Kino was a great character as well as he was one of the respectful and mature grandkid. He is a science aficionado and through him and Bea we get the various speculative versions of what might have happened to cause a train to crash and the power grid to go out. The situation is dire and he was supportive and took action and often stepping up to the plate taking responsibilities. He goes through some tough situations in the book and despite all that he is still grateful and source of strength to Bea.

Milo, Mazie, and Tasha are younger than Kino. Tasha is your stereotypical teenage girl who is obsessed with her phone, has a lot of attitudes, whines a lot. You can see that she has never been put in a situation where the luxuries are not part of your daily life. She is self-centered and selfish. But we see her grow more as the story progresses. But I didn’t find her growth to be at a good pace.

Milo on the other hand, started out being not used to living in such dreary conditions, used to a more extravagant life. He is also seen showing signs of growth in the book. Mazie is the baby of the family. She is very young when the EMP happens and still manages to show signs of maturity and grace than Tasha in the beginning. She is supportive of Bea and works hard for her age and steps up in terms of emergency.

Jake Jeffers is the head of the neighborhood watch and he is an upstanding, loyal, caring guy. I didn’t know what to make of him in the beginning. He and Bea had a weird vibe between them and some stilted conversations. I found some of the writing describing his interaction with Bea to be bordering on creepy than romantic. I was confused by his behavior. But he turned out to be quite a good fellow towards the end. I believe the writing was what confused me.

Beas’s husband and other kids are minor characters. A lot of them were rude, judgmental and simply showing any understanding of the hardships Bea had gone through. They had mocked her and ridiculed her about her storage and hoarding tendencies. It is ironic that the very same people who made fun of her were the ones who turned to her at the time of need.

There were some side characters that took the plot forward on its course. They were important in terms of the journey the other characters took in the story. I didn’t like the ending of the book, I felt it was wrapped up pretty quickly without a lot of answers.

Overall the book was enjoyable and a light read. It was a light sci-fi with less information-dump about the vents and a more character-oriented narrative. If you are interested in a unique protagonist and plot set in our modern-day world with a heavy focus on the characters and the circumstances that influences them then definitely check this book out.

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