If the Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith #bookreview #postapocalyptic #scifi


A solar electromagnetic pulse has fried the U.S. grid. Now, northern lights are in Texas—3,000 miles farther south than where they belong. The universe won’t stop screwing with 18-year-old Keno Simms. All that’s left for him and his broken family is farming their Austin subdivision, trying to eke out a living on poor soil in the scorching heat.

Keno’s one solace is his love for Alma, who has her own secret sorrows. When he gets her pregnant, he vows to keep her alive no matter what. Yet armed marauders and nature itself collude against him, forcing him to make choices that rip at his conscience.

IF THE LIGHT ESCAPES is post-apocalyptic science fiction set in a near-future reality, a coming-of-age story told in the voice of a heroic teen who’s forced into manhood too soon.

It’s not often you come across a senior citizen main character in a postapocalyptic setting, but grandma Bea was certainly a commanding presence in the first book of this series. Her grandson, Keno, also made an impression on me, so I was thrilled to learn he takes over in this sequel.

This book picks up where the last left off. The group is still in dire straits after the electromagnetic pulse, but they’ve managed to combine resources. With careful rationing, they’re able to stay fed and sheltered, but water is in short supply. There’s barely enough to drink, let alone wash clothes or shower. With Bea unable to lead the community, her son, Eddie, and Keno step in. At only eighteen-years-old, Keno is already married and shoulders a huge responsibility in keeping his small community of survivors safe and alive. It’s not an easy job. He’s also dealing with a deranged, selfish grandfather who’s partial to carrying around dangerous weapons and threatening the neighbors.

Lack of resources isn’t the only danger. Armed scavengers are raiding neighborhoods and killing residents, and they’re not far from Keno’s community. Losing loved ones is a real possibility, and characters are forced to make difficult decisions, especially Keno, who’s had to grow up far too soon. At times he’s wise beyond his years and a voice of reason, but when the stress becomes too much, he regresses to an immature teen who makes decisions without considering the consequences. The author did a fabulous job at displaying those contrasting emotions, and my heart went out to him.

This novel portrays a bleak picture of people who struggle daily just to survive in a postapocalyptic world, but it’s also hopeful and demonstrates what a community can do when they come together. You’ll experience the gamut of emotions with this one, but putting it down is next to impossible. I’m ready for the next book!

25 thoughts on “If the Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith #bookreview #postapocalyptic #scifi

  1. brendamsmith53

    Thank you so much, Teri, for all the kind words and the lovely review. Thanks also to all your readers and commenters. It’s support from readers and writers like yourself and Mae that keeps me going. I’m almost finished with the first draft of the third book in the series. I’ve had to put it on hold temporarily because I’m buying a new house and selling the current one. Cleaning out 26 years worth of accumulated junk in this house is a marathon, lol. I hope all of you have a fabulous holiday season, and thank you again!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I mentioned here on Monday I found several reviews buried in my drafts I thought I’d already posted – sorry it took so long, Brenda! I feel for you having to clean out 26 years of stuff, but what a huge weight off your shoulders once you finish.

      Liked by 1 person

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