The Rule of Three by Eric Walters

the-rule-of-three“One shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe. At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley’s high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam’s are the only vehicles that function. Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed. Soon—as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends—he will see his suburban neighborhood band together for protection. And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters.”

In my never-ending quest to clear out my massive to-read pile, I picked up this book.  I’ve had it since around the time that it first came out and just hadn’t gotten around to reading it.  And since I seem to be on a kick of reading books that are about unhappy subjects, I figured that a post-apocalyptic novel would fit right in.

As far as the genre goes, this is a solid book.  It doesn’t reach too high by trying to go too deeply into the global catastrophe, concentrating instead on what a resourceful group of survivors might do.  It’s actually an interesting look at the various ways in which a suburban neighborhood might ride out a crisis of this magnitude.  The author has obviously thought all of this through, bringing up things that I’ve never seen in post-apocalyptic society building, like storing gasoline in the tanks of abandoned cars for later use.

There are plenty of hints that this community won’t be immune from internal strife.  Adam’s mother and Herb, the retired spy, are poised to lock horns over many issues stemming from Herb’s overly pragmatic approach to preserving the community as a whole rather than individuals.  There are also rumblings from a rookie cop named Brett, bringing to mind the current nasty views of cops being arrogant and power-hungry.

Walters’s writing style creates some odd situations, though.  For one thing, characters tend to fade off the page despite being highly present earlier in the book.  The best example is Adam’s best friend Todd.  He’s around a lot at first, and then he becomes an almost non-existent character.  Adam’s girlfriend, Lori, does something similar, going from a smart farm girl to someone who just wants rides in Adam’s ultralight plane.

Character-wise, I also wish that Adam’s mother had been played as a stronger person.  As a police chief, I would expect her personality to be strong, and as a female police chief, I would have expected that even more.  But as the novel goes on, she bows down to Herb’s authority more and more, only showing token resistance.  Yes, Herb has more experience in situations of this kind, but she cedes him a lot of power that I’m not sure someone in that position would have.

With this being very much the start of a longer story and needing to set things up, and combined with the glut of survivalist information, the novel can seem slow in parts.  Things intensify in the last quarter of the book, and I do think it’s worth it to get to that point.  Only time will tell if the story as a whole bears out the promise that I see in this book, but signs are positive.  I don’t think this will be a story that breaks new ground, but as I said earlier, it’s solid and should find a good audience.

This book was a personal purchase.

(Description nicked from B&

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