Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: January 5, 2016
A solar flare reverses the Earth's magnetic field, causing electrical outages across the entire planet. Charlie lives in a small rural town in New Hampshire. At first, when everything goes dark, they just assume the power would come back on soon. After all, it is the middle of the winter. But after several days, another snow storm, and too far away from any town to get news, they assume they are on their own. Things would have been fine too if it weren't for the survivalist anti-government gun toting conspiracy nuts that life in a compound outside of town. They make it clear that not only do they think the government is behind the outages, but that they should be running the town. When Charlie realizes that his mother is running out of diabetes medication though, it is soon clear that he is going to have to travel to the next big town to get her the medicine she needs. But the big towns are in even worse shape and no one knows if they are even going to survive the winter let alone what they are going to do about bullies with guns.
This book was so good. Realistic, evenly paced, adrenaline pumping, and thrilling. At first, even though it is the middle of the winter, I wasn't as concerned about the people in this town. They genuinely cared for one another and were used to occasional power outages, although usually they had backup generators. Even so, fireplaces were a thing and these people employed them. Enter the antagonists. These already described yahoos are intent on taking over this town and are not remotely afraid to hurt people in order to do so. The thread that keeps them from stepping over the line is thin and it doesn't take much for them to step over it. Charlie is a reactionary character, in a good way. He is selfless and does what he can to help those around him. Of course, the adult in his life are trying to shield him from adults worries, but Charlie will have none of it.
I don't know what would happen if the electricity suddenly shut off. I imagine some amount of chaos and yet it won't turn into a crazy dystopian world overnight. The biggest concerns would be food and medication. Probably not as big a deal if you live in the country and are used to fending for yourself, but a problem for city dwellers. Wintertime in New York City without power would leave many people starving. Part of me wished that there had been another story, one set somewhere entirely different to see how those people survived, like in the Pfeffer series. A place where they didn't have to worry about freezing to death and could ride bikes to other towns relatively quickly, but had to deal with too many people and not enough food. We would be okay in my home for a few days, but then what? This is what makes this book so good. It makes the reader think. And it may make you a bit concerned if you have some nut-cases living in a compound anywhere near you.