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

A sequel to IF DARKNESS TAKES US

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!

#BadMoonRising If the Light Escapes by Brenda Marie Smith #thriller #dystopian #postapocalyptic #TuesdayBookBlog

I’m currently reading today’s featured book, and if real life didn’t make demands on me (seriously, why can’t I read all the time?), you’d need a crowbar to pry it from my hands. It’s a sequel that can be read as a standalone, but trust me when I say you won’t want to miss the strong-willed, no-nonsense main character grandmother Bea Crenshaw in the first book. This author combined a few of the questions and created quite a humorous Halloween scenario that I’d love to witness. Welcome Brenda Marie Smith!

Which urban legend scares you most?

The idea of a Chupacabra scares my pants off (which is a scary idea in itself), but I like the Mothman because he’s scary but also tragic and mysterious. Mae Clair has written a fictionalized account of him: The Point Pleasant Series, in which he sometimes goes into a rage and haunts the residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, but he also shows compassion and gives aid to certain people who have shown him kindness. Ultimately, he is all alone, the sole member of his species, and I can’t imagine much that would be scarier or more tragic.

Was there a horror movie you refused to watch because the previews were too scary?

I never liked Alien or Aliens because the monster was so SLLIIIIMYYY, but I watched them with my hands over my eyes. I refused to watch The Walking Dead for ten years because zombies are so gross. My son finally convinced me to try one episode, and I was instantly hooked—not on the zombies, but on the excellent human drama, all based on the well-drawn characters in extreme peril.

I’d like to answer all of these questions at once: Candy apple or candy corn? If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep? Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

If you were to find me watching a horror movie on Halloween, I’d be sitting near a pile of untouched candy apples, munching candy corn, alternately yelling at characters and covering my eyes, while trying to avoid looking at the floating spot in my eye that looks like a spindly black spider and ignoring the monsters in my peripheral vision. If the caramel is soft and the apples are crisp, I might eat a candy apple anyway. If the caramel is hard, I’ll use it to whack the monsters on the head or poke them in the eye with the apple stick.

If you decided to write a spinoff of a side character, who would you choose?

I did write a spinoff of If Darkness Takes Us, with its standalone sequel, If the Light Escapes. The first book was told from the point of view of grandmother Bea Crenshaw, the second in the voice of her 18-year-old grandson Keno Simms. I chose Keno because he was a standout character in the first book. I was a little worried that, being so young, he wouldn’t be able to carry an adult novel, but he surprised my socks off by spewing out of me so fast that I literally could not type fast enough to keep up with him. I’d like to write a third book in the series from the points of view of both Keno and Bea as well as other characters, perhaps Keno’s younger cousins Milo and Mazie, maybe his mother Erin and/or his uncle Pete.

How do you celebrate when you finish writing a book?

For me, there are different levels of “finishing” a book. Finish the first draft: take a day or two off from writing and marketing. Complete a rewrite: have cocktails and a special dinner with the hubby. Polish off the various publisher edits: hoot and holler with my family and my critique partners. Finally see my book go up for sale: sit there stunned, laughing and crying, refreshing the book buy link hundreds of times per day, tearing myself away to sleep for a week. For my first two novels, I threw a book launch party. For this one, due to COVID, I might have a much smaller gathering then do an online event sometime soon after.

If you could spend the day with another popular author, who would you choose?

I would have chosen Toni Morrison or John LeCarré, but, sadly, these amazing authors are no longer with us, unless I could contact them in a séance. I would love to spend a day with Margaret Atwood and absorb some of her talent and wisdom through osmosis. I would do my best not to turn her off with my pesky questions and be on my best behavior. I admire her so much. I’m sure I would be a nervous wreck but also happy as a clam.

A Standalone Sequel to If Darkness Takes Us

A solar electromagnetic pulse 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.

Purchase Link

Amazon

Author Bio and Social Media

Brenda Marie Smith lived off the grid for many years in a farming collective where her sons were delivered by midwives. She’s been a community activist, managed student housing co-ops, produced concerts to raise money for causes, done massive quantities of bookkeeping, and raised a small herd of teenage boys.

Brenda is attracted to stories where everyday characters transcend their limitations to find their inner heroism. She and her husband reside in a grid-connected, solar-powered home in South Austin, Texas. They have more grown kids and grandkids than they can count. 

Website: https://brendamariesmith.com/

Twitter: @bsmithnovelist

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaMarieSmithAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brenda_marie_smith/

Blog: https://brendamariesmith.tumblr.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJlLSnORIyoaygvZ1j49ZKw

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58043963-if-the-lightescapes#