Monday, May 10, 2010

The Unit-Terry DeHart

The Unit
Terry DeHart
Orbit, Jul 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780316077408

It is no consolation that when the nuclear bombs hit New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC, the United States retaliated by nuking the nations that enabled the terrorist to strike. More bombs hit big cities with China and Russia joining American and Europe in attacking Al Qaeda and those countries hosting the terrorist group. An EMP Pulse knocked out all electricity so that the scattered survivors have little idea of what is going on beyond their narrow sphere.

The Sharpe family consists of patriarch Jerry, his wife Susan and their two teenage children Melanie and Scott. They travel in search of a safe place to live. On the road the Sharpe family scavenges for food, machinery and clothing that they take from the dead left behind by a feral gang of teens led by the vicious amoral Billy Jr.. His horde escaped Juvie Hall when the lights went out and the guards left. Now the world is there for their taking. Bill wants to kill the Sharpe parents and son, and take Melanie. However, his adversaries have found a defensible position shooting the ambushers. The juvies kidnap Melanie and pass her around so everyone can enjoy raping her. Jerry searches for her with rage in his heart while his spouse and son continue their journey although now the radiation sickness is coming with the contaminated snow.

Once the country’s centrifuge collapses after the bombs fall, people fail to bond; instead they kill without remorse. Each member of the Sharpe family and Billy tell their tale in the first person in alternating chapters so that the readers comprehend what each is thinking and what motivates their actions. Putting aside whether the abduction should have occurred, Terry DeHart’s post-apocalyptic chilling version of On the Beach in which an apparent entire nation and perhaps world has gone crazy with kill or be killed as the only rule of law.

Harriet Klausner

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