If the Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith

If the Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith
Publisher: SFK Press
Genre: post-apocalyptic science fiction
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

A solar electromagnetic pulse fried the U.S. grid. Now northern lights are in Texas—3,000 miles farther south than where they belong. The universe won’t stop screwing with 18-year-old Keno Simms. All that’s left for him and his broken family is farming their Austin subdivision, trying to eke out a living on poor soil in the scorching heat.

Keno’s one solace is his love for Alma, who has her own secret sorrows. When he gets her pregnant, he vows to keep her alive no matter what. Yet armed marauders and nature itself collude against him, forcing him to make choices that rip at his conscience. IF THE LIGHT ESCAPES is post-apocalyptic science fiction set in a near-future reality, a coming-of-age story told in the voice of a heroic teen who’s forced into manhood too soon.

This is the second book in the series, but I had not read the first book. I didn’t have any trouble following this book, but there was enough about book one that I have already ordered it so I can see what led up to this point. And, fair warning, book two ends on something of a cliffhanger. I don’t personally have an issue with that, but I know some readers do.

The characters in this book are phenomenal. They are multifaceted, with their good points and their bad points. The story is told in first person from the point of view of 18-year-old Keno…. a young man who has had to grow up way too fast. As we work alongside him, we know his thoughts, his fears, and his determination to protect his people at all cost.

The secondary characters are all just as richly drawn. Even the “bad guys” are trying to survive, which makes their actions understandable. Folks, in this book and in this time, we aren’t in Kansas anymore and tough times call for tough measures. And the question is begged… will people come together to help each other, or will it be every man for himself?

That’s one thing that makes this book so compelling. I could see something like this happening, and people showing what they are made of. The people of this community have to find that answer in themselves.

The book starts off with a bang and does not let up even a smidgen. I stayed up way too late a couple of nights because I just had to know what came next. I’m already anxiously waiting Book Three. Kudos, Ms. Smith.

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