Power’s Out by Rachel Meehan, e-book, 223 pages, published by Cherry House Publishing in 2013.
Two years on from when Paul and Nairne leave the Grear farm behind in Water’s Edge, sees them traveling the countryside with Dog, staying away from the towns and trying to survive. Civilisation is crumbling, bandits control the roadways and the city streets, and there is a dwindling number of people to trust. When they stumble across a self-sufficient community residing in an abandoned convent, they are taken in and given shelter in exchange for Nairne’s assistance with their wind turbines. The community consists of about thirty people working together to survive, including some young people similar in age to Paul and Nairne. This could become home for the pair, ending their wanderings. Nothing is that simple though. Danger is present as they set out to help the community acquire much needed parts and supplies, which means venturing far beyond the safety of the convent’s walls. Their past is also creeping closer, but will it catch them at last?
The second book of the Troubled Times series, Power’s Out, was fast-paced and exciting. With lots of action, it is an exhilarating ride of survival. There was much more explicit violence in this story than its predecessor, which helps to illustrate how civilisation has fallen back to more instinctual behaviours as the world around it falls apart. When the constraints of society fall away and there are no longer any policing bodies to enforce laws, there is violence for gain, and violence for enjoyment. This is a terrifying insight into base human nature, but one which I think is rather accurate. There are plenty of unscrupulous people taking advantage of others in stable communities, but when there is no one to enforce the law, or those enforcers are corrupt, there arises the opportunity for these behaviours to increase. And that’s what we see in Power’s Out. The scenes of violence are vivid and scary, but the people behind the violence are even scarier!
It is easy to step into the Scottish landscape portrayed in this book, and follow along with Nairne and Paul, experiencing what they experience. All of the characters are richly described and developed, allowing the reader to get to know them. With the introduction of more characters from the community, different aspects of Nairne’s and Paul’s characters become evident. Paul and Nairne have become extremely close during their traveling and it is hard to let others in, though they are each tempted by a young member of the community. There are a lot more characters to get to know too. Suddenly Nairne and Paul don’t just have each other to rely on and interact with, they have to cope with others, most of whom do not realise how dire their situation really is. I liked Ronnie a lot. He’s a bit of a clown, but he is also loyal and caring. Iain, I didn’t like as much, he was a prig, but I think most of that came from being jealous of Paul and Isobel. She seemed a bit oblivious to how Iain felt about her, but perhaps she just didn’t want to acknowledge his feelings. She certainly took to Paul, and was likable as a character. I particularly liked Isobel’s father, Jack. He was sensible, kind, intelligent, and fair. He was also very accepting of Paul and Nairne, and was ready to learn from them and to be assisted by them, an attitude that not everyone in the community shared. The older members of the community, including their leader, Arthur, for the most part, were a bit naive, believing that things could continue as they were indefinitely, that they would be left untouched by the outside world.
The end of Power’s Out was very intense. I felt quite anxious as I read the last few chapters, wondering if Nairne and Paul would make it through, if the community would survive, and how things would play out. It left me feeling rather desperate to read the final installment of this wonderful trilogy!
Power’s Out is suitable for high school students through to adults. It contains violence and some bad language. The themes of societal breakdown and environmental disaster could be frightening for less mature readers.
*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.
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