Hell’s Children is a fun post-apocalyptic novel that’s essentially Lord of the Flies meets The Martian. So, let’s unpack that a bit. First of all, it’s a nice non-preachy apocalypse that doesn’t harp on any particular geopolitical issues. It’s simply an unspecified plague with a 100% mortality rate for adults and an 80% mortality rate for kids under age 15 or so. It happens over the course of several months, so the world is spared any of the usual cataclysms of nuclear meltdowns or crashing planes. It just slowly empties.
While some of the surviving kids clearly go into Lord of the Flies territory, our main protagonist is a smart kid named Jack whose parents unwittingly prepared him for this. They mostly wanted him to know how the world really worked, but in doing so, they imparted a lot of survival skills as well as the kind of self-reliance and leadership qualities he’d need in the chaos that was to come.
And what does Jack do in that chaos? That’s where I liken it to The Martian. What do you do if you’re alone in the suburbs with limited foot and weapons? How to you avoid the roving gangs? How do you feed yourself not just for tonight but for the coming years? How do you stay warm to survive the coming Virginia winter? While he doesn’t dive into the same level of rocket-fuel chemistry that The Martian does, he does get down into the nitty gritty of things, from how to sharpen a knife, how to butcher and cure meat, and what to do about essential vitamins and medicine once the drug stores are gone. It’s a fascinating exploration of “ok, but what then” questions.
And of course, while building a self-sustaining community, Jack also has to deal with the various Lord of the Flies factions, so it’s not all food prep. It has definite conflict and plenty of supporting characters to both help and hinder Jack’s hopes for survival.
About the reviewer:
Dan Thompson started writing fiction at the age of ten. Luckily for the world, all copies of that early Star Wars rip-off have been lost to time and Sith retaliation. Moving on from that six-page handwritten epic, he has self-published two books with more on the way – honest!
He lives near Austin with his wife and three children, drives old police cars, wears kilts when the weather permits, and is generally considered to be the weirdo next door. Fortunately, the neighbors don’t know how weird he really is.
Find out more about Dan at http://www.danthompsonwrites.com