Our End of the Lake, by Ron Foster, is about a man named Dave who finds himself in Atlanta, about 180 miles from home when a solar storm causes an apparently world-wide EMP event. He’s also cut off from the bug out bag in the back of his car, on the far side of the city in the wrong direction.
Dave is former Army, a moderately advanced prepper, probably in his 50s, and had just been hired on with FEMA the morning of the EMP event. So like many of the main characters in survival fiction, Dave is leaps and bounds ahead of the general public.
Unlike some depictions of FEMA employees as spineless, remora-like commies, Dave’s new boss, Jack, “was a grizzled old First Sergeant from the Vietnam era that had retired from the Army.” The boss, a few other employees and Dave were in a bar celebrating his new job – fairly carefree drinking is a theme throughout the book.
The power goes out and the FEMA guys quickly figure out what happened. As FEMA has no real plan to deal with such an event, Dave sets off for home on foot with a younger co-worker who needs to travel most of the same route.
Feeling naked without a pack and preparing for a long hike on foot, one of the first things Dave does is steal a drop cloth and some rope from an unattended painters van to make a horseshoe pack (complete with illustration). This is the first of a good bit of looting framed as scavenging that takes place throughout the story, enough to render Rawles catatonic.
This is a good place to note that the author picks out tips and little tricks that might be useful and turns them into a teaching moment with instructions. Some of these are useful, a few are strange, such as very detailed instructions later in the book for starting a vintage tractor that was unaffected by the EMP.
Since this is in the first few days of the event, things aren’t as dangerous as they will become, and they take the highway towards their destination. The do a good job of looting vehicles along the way, end up meeting some really nice people and getting slightly liquored up.
When they make it to the rural destination of the younger co-worker, again everyone is nice, everyone is pitching in to prepare, there is a fantastic BBQ, Dave make a deal to use an antique tractor to drive the rest of the way to his home, and there is a good bit of drinking.
Dave makes it home to his mother and makes contact with his ex-girlfriend, also a prepper. They pull in a few close friends and work on stockpiling as much food and supplies as they can, and they do pretty well. Although it’s now been many days since the EMP, they run into no real security issues, and there is some drinking going on.
They soon decide to leave their city before things fall apart and get dangerous. Using the tractor to pull a trailer with their supplies, they make their way to a secluded lake where they have a friend.
Once at the lake, they find most cabins deserted and commence systematic looting. They talk about security and firearms, meet some really nice people, had a feast of sorts, do some drinking, etc.
I don’t harp too much on the grammatical and spelling errors (glass houses and all) found in most recent self-published survival fiction, but the Kindle version had some annoying formatting issues that need to be dealt with.
And if you can’t tell, I fault the author with making the apocalypse sound sort of like a good time where you’ll meet a lot of nice folks and get comfortably numbed with booze, sounds like a party. Aside from sounding like a feel-good party, in a real situation like this if you start looting like Dave and crew were, you’d probably get shot fairly quickly.
Also, this book is sold as, “the complete Prepper Trilogy Containing Books 1-3,” which may be used to justify the $7.25 price tag, but seemed about as long as an average book.
Overall this is a fair read, but I’d borrow if from the library rather than buy.