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WesternSFA


Game Over
by Derek Hart
Lulu, $25.99, 354pp
Published June 2018

Something went terribly wrong. Seemingly normal people suddenly were so aggressive, even violent. They took to the streets, protesting everything, which led to massive riots. Law enforcement was hard pressed to contain this terrible breakdown in society.

This is a story of what happens when complete social breakdown occurs. Without any rational explanation, typical American citizens were rioting, destroying public and private property, assaulting police officers, and taking to the streets. These people are not only angry, but they’re violently opposing everything and everyone around them. Our heroes take shelter in a vacated office building, hoping to wait out the drama, until help can arrive.

The authorities have no explanation and the media was clueless, often adding to the hysteria with fake news. Yet one reoccurring rumor keeps cropping up. This meltdown was predicated by a nationwide cell phone call from outside the United States.  One of the greatest countries in the world ceases to exist, as the death toll mounts into the hundreds of millions. Yet this phenomenon sweeps other nations aside like dominoes. The dwindling population is hurled into darkness and despair.

Join our intrepid group as they band together with others, to eke out an existence amidst anarchy and depravation. Eventually numbering more than 90 survivors, these everyday Americans seek answers, while striving to improve their meager existence.

I am a sucker for end of the world scenarios and this one is a good one.  Rob Larson and his co-worker Brian Baron are on duty at the neighborhood liquor store. Arianna Delgado drops by with her 5-year-old daughter to pick up some tequila for a recipe when all hell breaks loose as an angry mob breaks in and trashes the store. Escaping out the back the four eventually take shelter in an office building and over time they fortify it while Rob and Brian go on scavenging trips to nearby stores for needed supplies. They are joined by other survivors and eventually Rob’s son shows up with about 40 other survivors from their neighborhood. And, because humanity is what it is - the group eventually is faced with those who would take by force what they have so carefully created.       

The characters are believable in both their response to the situation and their interactions with each other.  There are no easy explanations provided for what has happened to the world and there are some really odd things going on - people milling in circles until they drop dead, disappearing bodies and the like.  There are a few incongruities such as the power staying on for weeks, if not months and the apparent lack of an official response even early on but those just add to the mystery. The end really begs for a sequel.

There are a couple of minor issues - how much time passes is not clearly indicated which can be confusing at times and there are places where way too much minor detail is provided such as listing all 80 stores in the mall the group plans to loot.  I had a few problems with how  the character names were used , for instance in the space of a single paragraph calling a character by first name then later in the same paragraph by last name only and Rob’s son Mark is called Mark and Marc within the same paragraph.  Overall however I breezed through the book over the course of two days - highly recommended. ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

For other titles by Derek Hart click here

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