Having recently finished Alex Scarrow’s post apocalyptic novel Afterlight, borrowed from our local library, I happened upon the prequel Last Light.
Where Afterlight took up the story ten years after Peak Oil – when the oil ran out….Last Light begins a few days prior to the oil crisis and walks us through the terrifying chaos as it unfolds both in London and the Middle-East.
Obviously I should have read Last Light before Afterlight, but it didn’t detract from the story. It was interesting to see how the characters were first introduced to us and then developed as the plot progressed across the two books.
Most post-apocalyptic novels have strong, macho male lead characters, where as in Alex Scarrow’s two novels the main characters are strong – as in mentally strong – resolute women. As the story develops their resilience and fortitude come to the fore. There are a few macho men along the way, but it’s the women who stay the course.
The story starts on a typical run of the mill Monday morning. But within a few days, an apparent combination of accidents and terrorist activity sends the world’s oil supplies in a rapid downward spiral that soon reaches tipping point. Everywhere around the world is affected. Oil keeps the wheels of industry and the actual wheels of trucks and other transport turning. No oil means no imports, means a food shortage, means riots in the street. This is no accident though – it has all been carefully planned by a mysterious group known as the twelve.
Oil engineer Andy Sutherland is stranded in Iraq when things go belly up. He and a few other contractors team up with a company of British soldiers, desperate to find a way home, as life begins to collapse around them. One of the main strong female leads in the story, Andy’s wife Jenny is stuck in Manchester, where she has just had a job interview, fighting desperately against the rising chaos to get back to their children in London as riots, raging fires, looting, rape, and murder become increasingly common. In one short week, London is transformed from the stiff upper lip capital of the western world into disorganised hell.
Meanwhile, an assassin is tracking Andy’s daughter as she may have accidentally seen the men who are responsible for the attacks on oil tankers and refineries – several years earlier – when she walked into the wrong hotel room by mistake. He’ll silence anyone who can reveal the identities of those behind this global disaster. Can Andy get back to London in time to protect his wife and children?
As far as I am aware there are no more books in this series…..which is a real pity. Maybe eventually Alex Scarrow may revisit the Sutherlands for another episode. …I hope so.
Over 1500 readers on Goodread’s have rated this novel – giving it an average of 3.91 out of a possible 5. My own assessment is very similar 4 out of 5…..but then I am a sucker for an exciting post-apocalyptic novel.