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Branham (Anything for Amelia, 2015) describes a family’s struggles in a world running out of water in this dystopian novel.
The sun has entered into its red giant phase billions of years earlier than expected, causing global temperatures to skyrocket. The ice caps have melted, lakes and rivers have run dry, the power grid has collapsed, and America has descended into a state of anarchy. In “a world where three gallons of water could buy you a running car,” James Deforio’s only concern is caring for his family: his wife, Lexie; his 13-year-old son, Silas; and his infant daughter, Charlotte. An early warning from Lexie’s sister, Doris, allowed the Deforios to stockpile supplies before the collapse, but roving gangs of marauders mean that even the well-prepared are not safe from calamity. After looters drive the Deforios from their home, James must lead his small family to a place of safety, where water flows and some sort of future can be salvaged amid all the death and ruination. James decides to try to make it to Lake Erie, the inland freshwater sea near where he grew up, hoping that it hasn’t fully evaporated. There’s no guarantee, but it’s a goal to work toward. All James needs to do is survive long enough to get his family there. Branham is an adept writer, and the world he has created is thoroughly planned and well-executed. The massive, red sun looms with a ubiquity that few other villains could rival. There has been no shortage of post-apocalyptic novels in the past decade, and Branham isn’t quite reinventing the genre with this one. That said, the relentless pacing of this story, which rarely pauses from the action or relishes in the monotony of life after civilization’s breakdown, keeps the reader engaged throughout. By placing an entire family at the center of his novel, the author makes every challenge feel that much more dangerous. The book concludes with a brief excerpt from a forthcoming sequel, so hopefully readers can expect more adventures in Branham’s fearsome wasteland.
A fast-paced post-apocalyptic tale of survival and family.