How will life as we know it come to an end? Will be it through some cataclysmic event such as an EMP that destroys all technology in the blink of an eye? Will it be through an economic collapse that suddenly causes a governmental collapses and thrusts countries into utter anarchy?
Authors in the apocalyptic genre each have their own take on how the world as we know it will come to an end. Although the exact cause varies, many of the books that I’ve read, such as One Second After, Lucifer’s Hammer, and Patriots share a similar theme – a rapid progression from normal, everyday life into a near wild west scenario in a short amount of time.
A State in Turmoil
Archer Garrett’s The Western Front series takes a different approach. In the three-book collection, Garrett imagines a world that slowly deteriorates, one in which the government tries to hide the fact that it is increasingly becoming impotent and the U.S. is slowly splintering into chaos. To my untrained eye, this certainly seems like a very plausible scenario.
The story centers around two sets of main characters trying to make sense and survive in the falling world. They are loosely connected through an event that takes place in Texas, a state on the front lines of the governmental decay.
In one storyline, Jake, his wife, and his brother attempt to escape Texas and journey to his boyhood home in Alabama. Their hope is that a more peaceful life awaits them there. Along the way, they encounter resistance and unexpected traps.
In the second storyline, Jake’s brother left behind a Texas State Guard in southern Texas that is now deep behind enemy lines. The enemy? Mexican drug cartels who have encroached into U.S. territory while the government is helpless to defend it’s citizens. Armed Guardsmen struggle to maintain their position despite overwhelming odds.
As the story unfolds, the third storyline in introduced. A self-proclaimed anarchist and opportunist attempts to accelerate the decline of the U.S. so he can lead the reconstruction efforts and model the new country after his own deluded visions.
A Good Book
I enjoyed reading Garrett’s work. Despite being self-published, the book was well written and edited. It didn’t have a lot of the glaring typos and inconsistencies typically found in self-published works.
There is good character development and you do feel that you get to know each of the main characters pretty well as the story continues.
Garrett is unashamedly a follower of Christ and this book steers clear of fowl language and vulgar subject matter without detracting from the storyline in the least. I appreciate that. If you don’t share the author’s faith, Garrett doesn’t shoehorn his faith into to the work.
Garrett does begin the book with a quote from the Old Testament; it seems fitting and particularly relevant.
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. ~ Habakkuk 1:4
Having said all this, there were a couple of minor issues that I had with the book. Like many authors, Garrett introduced seemingly unrelated events and story lines in the book and eventually brought them together so the reader could connect the dots. In this case, though, I was expecting more of a connection among the stories.
Second, and this is really more of a personal preference, some chapters would begin without disclosing who was in the scene. It would refer to the characters with pronouns and descriptions but would keep who it was a secret for paragraphs at a time. Although this can be a good way to build suspense and mystery, it can also keep you flipping back and forth trying to figure out who said what.
All in all, I’d recommend The Western Front; it’s a good book and I appreciated the author’s writing.