If you’ve never given a thought as to what to do in a disaster, you’ll probably change your mind after reading Tim Washburn’s terrifying debut novel Powerless (Pinnacle Books).
At the very least, you’ll find yourself taking an extra long look at those survivor magazines at the grocery store checkout lane, or setting your DVR to record those doomsday prepper shows. You may even feel compelled to go a step farther by purchasing a gas generator for your home, nonperishable foods by the pallet, and cases of bottled water. You might want to get a gun or two as well–one for hunting and one for self-defense.
Because when the power goes out–for good–you’ll need all of it sooner rather than later.
The characters in Washburn’s debut novel learn that lesson the hard way when a massive solar flare wipes out electricity across the northern hemisphere, plunging the entire US into complete chaos. The crisis strikes without warning, wiping out power grids, communications, and food supplies, while threatening global catastrophe from nuclear plant meltdowns.
Think of it: no power, no communications. No cellphones, Twitter, Facebook, or the familiar trappings of today’s socially connected society. Instead of Facebook friends and community groups rallying behind worthy causes, you get every man, woman, and child fending for themselves. Common decency and humanity towards your fellow man be damned.
Washburn skillfully weaves the action between a set of characters as they each deal with the crisis in their own way across the country, from an elderly couple trying to get out of New York City, to an army veteran trying to reunite with his sister, to the President in a heavily fortified White House. Told in blisteringly fast-paced present tense and short, tight chapters, Powerless ensures that readers won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough.
Like the popular The Walking Dead comic book and television series, part of the novel’s appeal is the moral dilemma facing Washburn’s characters. Can they transition from their complacent, spoiled, take-everything-for-granted existence to do-what-it-takes-no-matter-the-consequences survivors? How far will they go to save their loved ones? Can they kill in the face of being killed?
The result is a novel in which you not only empathize with the characters and their plight, but also ask questions about what you yourself would do in a similar situation. Questions that will linger long after you put the book down.
Washburn graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in Journalism, and his reporting skills are evident in Powerless. He lives in Edmond, Oklahoma.
G. Robert Frazier is a writer and an avid reader living in La Vergne, Tenn. He reads for the Nashville Film Festival and Austin Film Festival screenwriting competitions and is an active member of the Tennessee Screenwriters Association, Nashville Writers Meetup groups, and La Vergne Library Board. Follow him on Twitter @grfrazier23 and visit his Adventures in Writing blog at https://grfrazier.wordpress.com.
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