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Summer of the Apocalypse by James Van Pelt
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Summer of the Apocalypse

by James Van Pelt

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Showing 5 of 5
Decent post-apocalyptic fiction, with a significant debt to the classic Earth Abides. I enjoyed it but by no means is it a must-read. Had flaws, but a solid effort. Not much that was new, but good characters, well-intended. Succeeds at around a 3+/5 level. Best was to read it during my own mini-apocalypse (Hurricane Irene). ( )
  stellarexplorer | Sep 4, 2011 |
I very much enjoyed reading this book. Eric is a wonderful character and showing him as a boy and an old man really makes this book work for me. Do not expect a great epic story a world collapsing, that is not what the book aims for. Van Pelt describes the apocalypse on a personal level if you will. It's one of the better books I have read this year. Summer of the Apocalypse has been on my wishlist for a while. After having read it, I regret not getting it sooner.

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | Dec 12, 2009 |
Booklist
( November 01, 2006 ; 0-9746573-8-7 )

After a deadly virus annihilates most of the world's population, 15-year-old Eric undertakes a perilous trek across a devastated Colorado landscape to find his missing father. Forging through a wasteland of abandoned autos and dead bodies, Eric survives crazed looters, wildfires, and a hangman's noose before joining a ragtag community of fellow survivors. Six decades later, after watching his brethren fall prey to illiteracy and a scavenger lifestyle, Eric embarks on another journey through a vastly transformed America, with the objective of rescuing lost knowledge from an abandoned library. His adversaries this time include wolves, feral children, and brutal survivalists. His encounters with the nastier side of human nature paradoxically provoke recognition of humanity's inherent goodness and give him hope for the inevitable renewal of civilization. Van Pelt's first novel is a solidly written, if somewhat routine, contribution to apocalyptic fiction, whose redeeming qualities arise from Van Pelt's deft subversion of contemporary, disaster-driven fears to forge a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. --Carl Hays Copyright 2006 Booklist
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  jorgearomero | Mar 10, 2009 |
Another book I quite enjoyed. In some ways it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's The Road in that it was an older man walking with a child (or in this case, children) across a post apocalyptic America. There were some major differences, this apocalypse was caused by plague, not nuclear bombs, and in this book there are actually other people for the characters to interact with and the author doesn't try to be new and exciting by ignoring rules of grammar and never giving the characters names (thank god). I'm glad there are more people, but it would have been nice to have a female play a part in the current part of the story (the book alternates between the current, post-apocalyptic time and the time 60ish years in the past when the plague started). Why does no one write a story about a couple of women walking across post-apocalyptic America?

This book had a lot more to say about the things we would miss if no one was around to run/produce them and I think the picture van Pelt paints of how society might look a few generations after the vast majority (90%) of humanity was wiped out. There would certainly be a faction who would think we should forget higher learning and concentrate on pure survival skills.

The explanation for the illness and stillbirths is an interesting one and makes me want to read [book:World Without Us] or watch Life After People again. (The random flying cats still make me laugh).

It was also interesting to see how elders were revered in every society mentioned in the current times. They are the keepers of the tales of the Gone Times. It stands in sharp contrast to how elders are viewed in contemporary America where they are rarely revered for being keepers of the past.

The book also made me think about the role that information would play in post-apocalyptic earth. Eric may scoff at the man who thinks books are some sort of magical totem, but the truth is, Eric basically thinks of them the same way, only he's thinking about the information inside. He clearly feels that the information in the books will raise humanity to a higher level and in that way the books become a sort of magic totem for him as well.

A very interesting book with lots to think about.

Recommended. ( )
  schnaucl | Sep 30, 2008 |
I know James van Pelt as an excellent short story writer - check out either one of his collections: Strangers and Beggars and The Last of the O-Forms.

Summer of the Apocalypse portrays a character named Eric at two pivotal points in his life. At fifteen years old, civilization collapses around him due to a plague. At seventy-five years old, he finds himself, as one of the last "Gone Timers", defending the preservation and use of knowledge, even if that knowledge came from the time before, and even if that knowledge contributed to the demise of the world that existed then. The chapters of the novel alternate between these two periods of Eric's life.

Van Pelt creates a story here that owes a bit to Stewart's Earth Abides and King's The Stand, but at the same time is completely his own. His main character and the events that shaped his life are so moving that I haven't stopped thinking about them since I stopped reading, and there's really no higher praise I can give for a novel. ( )
  ScottDDanielson | Feb 20, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0974657387, Paperback)

When a plague wipes out most of humanity, fifteen-year-old Eric sets out to find his father. Sixty years later, Eric starts another long journey in an America that has long since quit resembling our own, but there are shadows everywhere. Shadows of what the world once was, and shadows from Eric's past. Blood bandits, wolves, fire, feral children, and an insane militia are only a few of the problems Eric faces. Set in Denver, Colorado and the western foothills, Van Pelt's first novel is both a coming-of-age tale, and a story of an old man's search for hope in the midst of disaster. Eric's two adventures lead him through a slice of modern America and into the depths of one man's heart.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:35:34 -0400)

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