Saturday, May 3, 2014

Review - Flare by Paul Grzegorzek

Title: Flare
Author: Paul Grzegorzek
Published: February 18, 2014
Pages: 281
Goodreads Rating: 4.00 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
My Content Rating: Mature YA/Adult (No sex, but an attempted assault; Violence)

Summary from Goodreads: Malcolm King is a journalist living in trendy Hove on the south coast of England. His days are taken up with video meetings and research on the internet while he writes articles for magazines around the world. 

When a solar flare of unprecedented magnitude hits the Earth, effectively hurling us back to the stone age in a matter of hours, Malc is thrust into a terrifying new world as he travels the length of the country to find his young daughter. 

Society, a fragile construct at best, shatters as the survivors fight each other for food and water, neighbour killing neighbour as fires rage through the cities, destroying much of what's left. 

Faced with difficult choices at every turn, Malc draws his strength from those around him; Emily, a tough, no-nonsense soldier with a soft spot for lost causes and Jerry, a disgraced astrophysicist who may be the only person left who understands what's happening with the sun. 

With their help, he must struggle to answer the ultimate question. 

What won't he do to get his daughter back?

Flare is an exciting disaster novel that explores what might happen if solar flares took out the world's technology.  Let's face it, our world is pretty much dependent on technology - so, the results are not pretty.  People must suddenly fight to survive.  The synopsis describes the results pretty well, so I'll skip right to my review.

The negatives:
  • Quick degradation of society.  It did seem like things went downhill awfully fast in this book.  I definitely think that a disaster of this proportion might cause people to act in ways that went against their character, but I don't see it happening quite so quickly.  Of course, there would be people who would take advantage of the situation or react badly, but it seems like, at least at first, there would also be more people really trying to help out and do good.  We did see some of that (especially later in the book), but the occurrences were few and far between.  
What I loved:
  • The flares.  I thought that Grzegorzek did a fantastic job creating a realistic disaster and imagining what would happen to the world because of it.  Since one of the characters was an expert on the flares, he was able to explain why they caused the damage they did and what could and should be expected.  Now, I'm not a scientist, so I can't say for sure that everything that was said was absolutely correct, but I will say that there was a thorough explanation given for everything that happened and that it all seemed very plausible to me.  It also wasn't explained in such a way that it was too technical, which would either make it boring or confusing.  One thing that I loved about the flares themselves was how beautiful they were - I was fascinated by the idea that people would be enthralled by the beauty of this thing that was going to destroy their world!
  • Malcolm and Emily.  Malcolm and Emily were a unique pair - opposite of the typical stereotypes that we see.  Malcolm was a journalist.  He was used to seeing the good and bad in the world, but he wasn't exactly tough, and he certainly wasn't prepared for an apocalypse.  He was completely dedicated to his daughter, though, and was willing to sacrifice whatever he needed to in order to reach her. Emily, on the other hand, was ex-military, and she was prepared for just about anything.  I enjoyed these two together and was rooting for them to become a couple.  However, I appreciated that the book did not center on a romance between these two.
  • Government plots.  When the world is coming to an end, there are always people who try to pick up the pieces and salvage some sort of government.  As is typical in this sort of book, not everyone who tries to take over is doing it in an entirely positive way.  Malcolm and Emily certainly find this to be true when they are captured by a government army that is supposedly trying to rebuild society.  I was very intrigued by this aspect of the book and hope that we get even more of it in future installments.
I recommend Flare to anyone who loves a good disaster story.  This story was exciting and action-packed! I give it 4/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***