Why am I reviewing three books at once? Because they are available on Amazon as a box set, and I read them that way. In fact I read this large volume of text over the course of about a week… and I was sad to have finished them.
The Breakers series is a survivalist book series masquerading as an alien invasion series, masquerading as a survivalist series.
The series starts off with a plague spreading across the world. Book 1 follows two different characters, Raymond who is a failed graphic designer rapidly going broke in LA and Walt, a writer who’s obsessed with his girlfriend, who is probably about to leave him. The series explores these two people who by all conventional measurements have both failed at life. As the world starts to fail, as the mechanisms of society stop working for most people, the relative failures of both Walt and Raymond become less important. They aren’t failures now, they are just people living in a place that has failed around them. In fact, at least for Raymond, the collapse of society has improved things for him personally.
Walt’s early arc is more complicated. His life doesn’t improve, but he does. After his girlfriend dies (sorry, this review will have spoilers, however this one is a pretty minor one) he ends up walking to LA. He begins his journey in New York, so it takes a little while. As he walks he discovers who he is as a person, gets more in touch with his values, becomes the person he could be.
Raymond meanwhile establishes a homestead with his wife, who has also survived. The couple are happy, possibly for the first time in their tenure in LA.
One day, Aliens show up. It quickly becomes clear that the aliens created the plague as part of their invasion of earth. Soon after that they continue the work of trying to remove humanity from the planet.
Raymond and his wife Mia end up joining with some other survivors to fight the aliens. Walt joins up with them as well, no longer a failed writer, he is now a hardened warrior.
The book ends in a somewhat unexpected, but very satisfying, way.
Book two picks up at the plague again, a new pair of lead characters is featured. Ness is a loser, a twenty something nerd with severe social anxiety who lives in a trailer with his mom. One day his brother moves back home and now Ness has to share a room with Shawn, a blue collar worker with more than a hint of redneck. Meanwhile Tristan is a college girl who is coming to the conclusion that her music degree probably isn’t going to land her a good job. She’s considering moving back to the small town she grew up in, while trying to avoid the boyfriend she never broke up with.
The plague hits and both of our new characters end up displaced. Ness starts to come into his own, his analytical mind now being properly utilized. He’s even able to make peace with Shawn.
Tristan finds herself protecting her younger brother as her parents succumb to the plague, and her town succumbs to chaos. The survivors in her town are ruled over by a biker gang – although most of the members don’t seem to have been bikers in the beginning.
The story ends up taking place between Tristan’s attempts to find her brother and escape from the aliens who have taken her prisoner, and Ness’s time at a nuclear power plant that is still operational. Walt, from book one, has a brief cameo in Tristan’s tale, but only a momentary cameo.
Both characters grow in unsuspected directions, with Tristan becoming a great warrior, and Ness, well, what happens to him is something I can’t even begin to describe without far too many spoilers. It’s a great character arc however. Their arcs intersect for a moment, and only a moment. The two characters see each from a distance, but never interact, even though their actions affect each other.
The final volume of the three follows Raina, a young girl who was orphaned early in the plague, and Walt – he’s living in the Yucatan peninsula, squatting on Mayan ruins.
The action in this book is more about groups of survivors warring against each other, although the aliens do play a role.
Walt has become a legendary warrior, the kind of warrior you find as part of a quest, and a group has decided to seek him out, to help deal with a group of the aliens as well as human conflicts. Walt becomes romantically involved with one of the members of the group and agrees to help in the part of their quest against the Aliens. Another journey, although he does take a car for part of it, to LA.
Raina meanwhile wants to help her adoptive parents defeat the group of marauders who have decided that LA is now their territory. The group demands tributes and taxes that are prohibitive, and it is strongly implied that they have raped Raina’s adoptive mother. After her father is killed and her mother captured Raina joins the local rebels in their mission to overthrow the maruaders.
Once again our two lead characters don’t interact at any point in the story, however they do affect each other.
It’s a fascinating series. A lot of the survival stuff is very accurate, and bleak. Not heroic, human scale. I like survival stories a lot, but I get very, very tired of a lot of the ideas the genre usually encompasses. One incredibly refreshing thing about this story is that it’s not a giant NRA commercial, which so much of the survival genre is (not that it demonizes gun ownership, it just doesn’t fetishize it either). It is also a very non-sexist story. In most survivalist fiction women are prizes that men get for their efforts, or accessories. In this series they are people. Even in the first novel, where both leads are men, the series treats women like they have an inner life, their own reasons for doing things.
They are great books, a fun read that manages to be light while exploring things in a serious way. I highly recommend them, especially if you like your survivalist fiction without sexism and gun worship.
Traverse Davies is a writer and journalist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can read more of his work at http://dreamtime.logic11.com