Tuesday, 3 July 2007

True Light by Terri Blackstock

After reading the first two books in the Restoration series, I was curious to find out what happens next. Since some of the characters made big mistakes in earlier installments, I wanted to know if they grew beyond that. On the day that “True Light” came up to the top of my “to-read” pile, we actually had a short power cut in our street – making the scenario suddenly very much close to home. What if the power didn’t ever come on again?

The worldwide power outage has gone on for several months now. Doug and his family have motivated their community to work together for everyone’s good. Wells have been dug and yards are full of vegetable gardens. Things look pretty good for a while. Then a young boy is shot and seriously wounded in the woods, and Deni’s longtime sweetheart Mark finds himself the main suspect. A winter drama of mistrust and exhaustion follows, as Mark faces his fears, the crippled judicial system, and his worst enemies.

As the authorities struggle to bring order to a world without electricity, this is a chillingly realistic picture of something that could quite possibly happen. People in all their humanness can turn into monsters of selfishness, given the right circumstances. Although it looks like good is winning out in their neighbourhood, the neighbours turn against Mark as Doug and Kay do their best to turn the tide of unfounded suspicion.

There’s plenty of adventure to keep you turning pages. The practical details of the whole scenario are highly plausible, although at times the characters seem a little flat and stereotyped. Maybe they’re still in shock – I know I would be. The action in the plot is centred on the premise that the lack of technology turns people and society into a dangerous kind of modern Wild West full of renegades and vigilantes.

It’s certainly a fascinating idea – the end of the world that isn’t actually the end of anything except technology. Although it starts out sounding like science fiction, it’s really a futuristic thriller. Life goes on, even when nearly everything is stripped away. People are still around, and that’s what really matters.

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