Tag Archives: environmental catastrophe

Power’s Out by Rachel Meehan

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Water's EdgePower’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.

Water’s Edge by Rachel Meehan

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Water's edge cover VFWater’s Edge by Rachel Meehan, e-book, 227 pages, published by Cherry House Publishing in 2013.

Daniel Grear is a firm believer in climate change, and the detrimental effects that it is having on the earth, especially the weather. To make their lives better, he moves his small family into the Scottish countryside onto acreage, where they can try to become mostly self-sufficient. They raise animals, grow food and produce their own electricity, and collect rain-water in tanks. Nairne and her older brother Zane both help out with chores about the farm after school, and Nairne is showing an aptitude for machines and caring for the animals. Coping with wild weather, including storms, excessive rain and heavy snow falls makes life on the farm harder, but they are much better off than many. As things worsen, and sea levels rise dramatically, parts of the UK and Europe flood, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. With a massive influx of people from further south, Nairne convinces Daniel to take in a family of boarders, a city couple, Garrick and Pam, with their teenage son, Paul. They seem alright on the surface, but Nairne quickly becomes uneasy and distrustful, with her feelings exacerbated when a couple of Garrick’s colleague’s move in next door. As food and fuel sources dry up, and even basic supplies become unaffordable, the Grear’s farm with all of its resources becomes a very desirable location. Nairne soon learns that some people will go to extraordinary lengths to get what they want, and beware anyone that might get in their way.

This is the first book in the Troubled Times series by Rachel Meehan. It deals with the issues of climate change and global warming and themes of human nature, including survival and desperation. The effects of climate change that we have seen so far have drastically accelerated, the polar caps are melting at an alarming rate, raising sea levels and causing storms. There is drought, fires, floods and storms that are devastating vast sections of Earth. These events could really happen to our world if we, as a human race, continue to trash the environment and use reckless amounts of fossil fuels. The author has obviously put a great deal of effort into researching climate change science, and this comes through in the details of this story. She has also put a lot of thought into how people would react if such a widespread catastrophe were to occur. The desperation to survive at any cost is evident in the town, with arguments, looting, fights and thievery, and that’s just the average law abiding citizens! They just want to have enough food, shelter and water to survive. The ones that want to take advantage of the situation, like Garrick and his mates, are ruthless, and concerned with profit and power far more than with getting enough to make their own survival possible. I concur with how this scenario plays, survival, even at the cost of others is basic animal nature, and I think that is how most people would react if they became desperate. That there will be some prepared to take things further is almost inevitable, we hear everyday on the news about people that have done something abhorrent even in the best of times, without remorse or guilt. This could only be amplified in the disarray of a global catastrophe.

All of the characters in Water’s Edge were deeply developed and realistic. Through the story I felt like I really got to know Nairne. She is tough, headstrong and practical, a great female lead character. I admired her abilities about the farm, and her disregard for what others might think of her. At fourteen, she has much more weighing on her shoulders than most, yet she slogs forth with tenacity, honesty and integrity. She’s got a sharp tongue, a temper, and she can come across as a bit abrasive, but I really liked her. I liked Zane and Daniel too, though not as much as Nairne. Zane was a shy follower, who befriends Paul readily. Daniel was a lot like Nairne, though with more years under his belt to learn to control his emotions. In contrast, their new boarders, Garrick and Pam, were extremely different. It was evident from the start that Garrick was a bit off, and Pam seemed to be rather vacuous and incapable of independence. They were well written city characters trying to adjust, and take advantage of, country living. Their friend and colleague, Stevie, and his gang were horrible men, and I can still see Stevie’s evil grin as he hurts someone. The character that changed the most was Garrick’s son Paul. Initially I disliked him, but as the story progressed, he grew on me. He really started trying to make a new life on the farm, helping out, and befriending both Zane and Nairne.

Water’s Edge was interesting,  logical, with well-formed themes and characters, and a little mystery. I enjoyed it, and have already moved onto the second book in the series, Power’s Out. I think it would be best suited to upper primary school and high school students. However, it may not suit less mature children, as the overall theme of disaster and dystopia might be too frightening, and there is some violence and death.

This book really makes me want to live off the grid in a secluded area being self-sufficient, in a well-secured and camouflaged compound with all my family by my side!

 

*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.