Welcome to Jercol's Back to the Basics. This is where I will post useful information, tips, and gear reviews about what I learn about Outdoor Survival, Activities, and Disaster Preparation. My only goal is to be informative, realistic, and at least a little entertaining.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Survivalist Books

I read a lot.  I mean, I read A LOT.  Usually 2-3 books a week.  I'll read pretty much anything, but my favorites are cheesy Zombie books and Survivalist books.

After reading a mediocre survivalist book recently, I decided I should share some of my extensive reading list and some suggestions with other fans of the genre.

There are three main things I'm looking at here: the writing (the story line, how well written it is, how well the character's develop, etc), the survival theme (how well thought out the scenario is, how realistic it is, the skills and techniques), and how well it combines the two into the overall entertainment value.  Some of these books might be high on the technique scale but low on the entertainment value, it all depends on the kind of book you're looking for.  I usually read on my kindle and these are all available (and relatively inexpensive) on Amazon.

In no particular order:

  • After The Flash and The Next Tomorrow: A Tag Stevens Novel. J.R. Madsen. There are two books in this series so far.  These are an interesting combination of semi-romance and survival themes.  For the first 50 pages of the first book I was kind of confused as to what I was reading, it was about this father on a trip for his son's hockey tournament.  Now, this was actually quite entertaining, the author keeps getting the main character into these quirky situations and implying the possibility of this guy having a three way with his wife and another player's hot mother. Sex is a pretty strong theme in these books, though it never gets explicit (which is almost disappointing at times).  The books fluxuate between the almost soap opera relationships between characters and survival and combat scenes.  There aren't a lot of specific survival techniques or skills, but it is a highly entertaining post-EMP, cross country search for family with some violence and between-the-lines sex thrown in.
  • Lights Out. David Crawford.  I actually enjoyed this book quite a lot.  I think this is one of the best combinations of survival and entertainment that I've found so far.  This book goes over a systematic break down after an EMP (popular theme) and how the Main Character helps keep his community going, organized the necessary supplies, defends against "mutant zombie bikers" (their term for hostiles).  There is a definite arc in the story line, some cool techniques, some cool combat scenes, and a lot of likable characters.  I really liked the epilogue too, which is important because a mediocre ending can ruin the whole book.
  • Collision Course. David Crawford.  I put this one separate from Lights Out because it's the same author, but an unrelated survivalist book. This is a pretty interesting book about bugging out and bugging in.  There are two main characters that develop over the course of the book in two completely different scenarios.  One is an alcoholic farmer and the other a city-dweller trying to get to his BOL.  I enjoyed the twists in the plot towards the end and didn't see them coming.  Some interesting concepts and challenges are show between the two different approaches to survival.  It's a good read.
  • One Second After. William R. Forstchen.  This book was a little light on specific survival techniques, it was more about the organization of a community to survive post EMP (again, it's a popular theme).  While it doesn't have a lot of specific techniques, this book does not shy away from difficult questions and emotional hurdles.  The main character's daughter has type 1 diabetes, which is basically a lethal diagnosis in a survival scenario.  This isn't a book with a lot of combat (like a lot of other survivalist fiction), but it reads a lot more like a 'real' novel, real characters, and real problems.  This is very well written, one of the few survivalist books that actually evoked emotional responses to the character's trials.  
  • Dark Grid and Dark Road.  David C. Waldron.  These are more books that have good entertainment value, not as much "survivalist" value.  They are quite entertaining, well thought out, and good fiction.  These are about a group of army reservists after the 'Burst' (another EMP) trying to reestablish a community.  There are some military conspiracies involved, different groups establishing and pitted against each other.
  • A Distant Eden and Adrian's War.  Lloyd Tackitt.  These books are half survival manual, half story line.  A Distant Eden is a more typical prepper wet dream, a solar flare (Whoa! Not an EMP!) destroys all electronics (ok, not so different after all) and one man is prepared.  He sets up a community with family and like minded people.  Adrian's War is more of a primitive living guide, I kept expecting to turn the page and see step by step illustrations on basket weaving, or fish traps (that's not necessarily a bad thing).  The story lines are interesting but not real deep, more of a platform to explain survival techniques.  There are some really good tips in here.  Eden is about being prepared, Adrian's War is about one man's primitive journey and combat against an evil militia.
  • Obliterated: Would you know how to survive?  C. J. Hall.  Aliens (Yeah! Not an EMP!) start destroying technology centers (Awww, not so different) and cities.  A group escapes out to the wilderness and get set up to survive long term.  If you are looking for action, this isn't the book for you.  It's a fairly low-key survival scenario with more ducking/hiding/surviving than fighting.  It's not amazing but it introduces a lot of good prepper concepts and basic survival situations.
Most of these books are what I would consider 'budget' fiction.  They aren't professional, highly polished, diligently edited,  or perfectly constructed.  These are more amateur, good ideas, a lot of heart, and I find that pretty refreshing (as long as you can forgive the occasional misspelled word or missing punctuation).

I've read all of these books (and many more).  I'm always interested in reading survivalist fiction, if you have any suggestions, or questions on the books I've listed, feel free to comment or send me a message.

And don't worry, I'm sure I'll be posting a list of good zombie books in the future (there are actually quite a few).

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