Judgment Day is the fourth and final installment in the Days of Atonement series by Martin Berman-Gorvine. The book separates itself from the three previous books by a substantial distance in years and geography. The main characters: Amos, Suzie, and Vicky, are now in their forties and living far to the south of their old hometown of Chatham’s Forge, on an island in Maryland, where they are somewhat removed from the newest god to take over up north, Ba’al, and his High Priestess, Cindy, who seeks revenge against the Israel clan, which Amos’s band is now called. While Amos is the Headman, or leader, of this band that lives peacefully except for the occasional assaults by the punks that have followed them south, it is Vicky who has taken on the role of Rabbi and devoted follower of the Jewish God Amos’s family secretly believed in back in Chatham’s Forge when Moloch was the god in charge. The trio have formed a somewhat awkward family unit, with Amos married to both women and producing a large blended family. While he is admired and respected by the small community of more than a hundred refugees that have joined them over the years, Amos still retains the wishy washy and indecisive nature that has not only frustrated the women in his life, but this reviewer as well. He is a good man, but he struggles to make decisions and be an assertive leader, allowing one of his wives and a son to dominate their community with less violent, but similar rigid ritualistic expectations put upon the followers of the barbaric gods of the north.
While the group has been at peace for years, Cindy and Ba’al are prepared to get their vengeance against the Israel clan. At the same time, Vicky has become convinced that the Jewish God has taken physical form and their much smaller group is destined to go to war with the demonic gods, like Ba’al and Mote, the god of death. Amos struggles to keep his two families and two wives, who have been at odds with one another all these years, at peace and their community whole. It’s clear that is a failing effort, and war is coming.
This is a fitting, and somewhat surprising, ending to this series. I had my doubts as to how the author could effectively end this tale, given the direction it has been heading and with the world filled with so many dark and demonic gods, ghosts, and only hints of the benevolent, if somewhat absent deity of the Jewish faith. I felt satisfied in the end-that the author didn’t use a (pardon the use of the term) deus ex machina to bring things to a conclusion, as it were. The ending fits and while this alternate universe can seem somewhat baffling at times, it has its own logic to it, and the characters who survive are not left with easy answers or solutions to their lifelong problems.
While the big picture story of this series deals with a hell-wrapped apocalyptic world, the real story is more personal, dealing with the conflicts that face the challenging love triangle Amos, Suzie, and Vicky been a part of since their high school days came to an end. It is hard to say that any one of them is a hero or a villain in this piece. Instead, they are just three humans that have tried, and often failed, to do the right things for themselves and those they care about. This is not a tale of redemption or vindication for any one of them. It is a tale of realization-understanding who you are (for better or worse) and that while this particular story may end, the greater story continues to unfold endlessly into the future. Whether that is frustrating, or satisfying, is perhaps all in how you look at it. For me, this series was both frustrating and satisfying, like the characters, and like life itself. It is the same whether you live in the ‘normal’ world or (apparently) in a demon and ghost-infested post nuclear apocalyptic world.
Judgment Day can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Judgment-Days-Ascension-Martin-Berman-Gorvine/dp/1609752430/
The Flu tells the tale of a pandemic flu attack on the world, tracing its origin at a remote Alaskan scientific outpost to where it rapidly spreads across the globe, though the story more specifically zeroes in on the United States, and even more particularly on a small town in northeast Ohio, Lodi, which is not tremendously far from Cleveland. The story focuses on Mick, the Sheriff in town and his surrogate family, which consists of the woman he is secretly dating, Dylan, and her three sons. Sam, Dylan’s husband, who she is divorcing, is attempting to reconcile with her at the same time. The lives of this family come into focus as Lodi goes under the magnifying glass because of the return of one of the world’s most renowned virologists, Lars Rayburn, who lives in Lodi one month out of the year, spending the rest of his time studying strains of the flu and other plagues in Madagascar. As this flu, which has a death rate up around 90%, plows across the country and the globe, Lars decides that with the help of the government that he will shut off Lodi and attempt to create a safe haven away from the flu, one where he will be prepared to deal with it when it comes, and will do his best to block it off from ever hitting the town.
The book devotes a goodly amount of early pages on the spread of the flu, and as is the case throughout this tale, we are given the personal stories of those who are exposed to it and are dealing with the pain and anguish it brings. The Flu seems like a tidal wave, smashing into everything, giving it a sense of inevitability. Some survive, though most do not-at least not until it surrounds Lodi. The harsh reality is that the best that seems can be done is to wait until this plague dies out on its own-it spreads, it infects, it kills, and then the flu dissipates, leaving behind approximately 5% of the former population. The author does do a good job of crafting characters that you grow attached to, and can appreciate-the normal, everyday people of the town of Lodi, including the main characters who are just trying to survive and keep the town safe. I think the strongest, most potent parts of this story were when these people were interacting with each other and trying to go on with their lives despite everything happening around them. These two main components of this tale-the inevitability of the flu and the development of characters we care about-bring things to a head in the homestretch of the book.
I enjoyed this tale, and feel that the author did a bang up job crafting a plausible pandemic scenario and also created characters that you care about and are hoping manage to survive, though you suspect from the beginning that it is unlikely that all of them will survive, and there will be plenty of heartbreak. As far as issues I had with the story, I would say a minor one was some of the typos and editing issues, though they were ones I could certainly live with. If I were to state that I had a real issue with things, it wouldn’t be something that I could exactly pinpoint in the story itself. I think it would be more along the lines of the pacing. As I said, the flu moves with a certain amount of inevitability-which means that it seemed that the surprises in this story were few and far between for me-things happen because the flu is going to bulldoze everything in its pathway, and it does so at a relatively slow pace. The story, in turn, moves at that pace as well, taking about half its pages to really move it along to where it started to get really interesting for me. I can understand and appreciate all that came in the first half of the book, but again, I would have been happier with a faster pace up to that point. Even with that said, I give credit where credit is due, and the author deserves a lot for crafting a realistic and intriguing pandemic tale that had characters inhabiting the story that felt real and compelling, which, in the end, made the build up well worth it.
The Flu can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Flu-Jacqueline-Druga-Johnston/dp/1885093489/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329959697&sr=8-1