77 Days in September, by Ray Gorham

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This was an indie novel that I bought on a whim after reading a bunch of great reviews on Amazon. Here is the Goodreads synopsis, because I suck at them:

On a Friday afternoon before Labor Day, Americans are getting ready for the holiday weekend, completely unaware of a long-planned terrorist plot about to be launched against the country. Kyle Tait is settling in for his return flight home when a single nuclear bomb is detonated 300 miles above the heart of America. The blast, an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), destroys every electrical device in the country, and results in the crippling of the power grid, the shutting down of modern communications, and bringing to a halt most forms of transportation.

Kyle narrowly escapes when his airplane crashes on take-off, only to find himself stranded 2,000 miles from home in a country that has been forced, from a technological standpoint, back to the 19th Century. Confused, hurt, scared, and alone, Kyle must make his way across a hostile continent to a family he’s not even sure has survived the effects of the attack. As Kyle forges his way home, his frightened family faces their own struggles for survival in a community trying to halt its own slow spiral into chaos and anarchy.

Based on scientist’s predictions of what would happen if a single nuclear bomb is detonated over Kansas, 77 Days in September follows Kyle and his wife, Jennifer, as they are stretched past their breaking point, but find in their devotion to each other the strength to persevere.

The title of this book confused me – there obviously aren’t 77 Days in September; but it didn’t take me long to realize that it was about the journey that began in September and continued into a time where the characters did not really care about time as much anymore, the passing of days. They were not counting calendar days, but the number of days that a family was apart and trying desperately to survive and get back to each other.

This book didn’t have zombies or monsters, unless you count other humans, who are often the most vicious of monsters when the world goes to shit. An EMP – Electromagnetic Pulse – knocked out power over the entire North American hemisphere, and Kyle, the main character, has to cross nearly the entire continent from bottom to top to reach his family back home, and the majority of that trip happened on foot. The book switched back between Kyle’s viewpoint, and his wife Jennifer’s. Jennifer is stuck at home with her young children, having to provide for and defend them from the unsavory people who are turning their town and neighborhood into a police state, waiting for help to come.

Kyle struggles on the road, dealing with theft of his belongings, having to help an elderly woman home, then being stranded in a snowstorm only to be rescued by a woman living alone, a woman who wanted him to stay with her and not go home to his children.

The story had a happy ending, which was nice after all of the struggles the family went through. I really wish this book had continued on to a series, or at least have one follow up book to see how the family got through the hard times together after an EMP. I find that most books like this only deal with the time before and directly after an EMP, and don’t go deep in time to years later, seeing how humanity has moved on without the electricity and technology we have grown used to. It doesn’t seem like there will be another book though, and Ray Gorham does not have much of an internet presence so I am not sure if he is working on another novel or not. Either way, this book was a great quick read if you like this sort of story.

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