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Summer of the Apocalypse

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  620 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
When a plague wipes out most of humanity, fifteen-year-old Eric sets out to find his father. Sixty years later, Eric starts another long journey in an America that has long since quit resembling our own, but there are shadows everywhere
Paperback, 260 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Fairwood Press
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(showing 1-30)
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Eric Shaffer
Jun 04, 2010 Eric Shaffer rated it it was amazing
James Van Pelt's Summer of the Apocalypse is a compelling read. Unlike some of the reviewers here, I found the dual timelines not only refreshing--since I tend to tire of unceasingly long linear plots--but I also found they were masterfully constructed to comment on each other. One chapter might end just as the same topic is raised in the next, or one might provide the answer to a question just posed in the other, or the outcome of a situation in one affects the action in the other. I believe th ...more
Feb 22, 2008 Topher rated it really liked it
Shelves: post-apocalypse
I detested Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It was bland and boring and not particularly entertaining. I don't mind books that are the mental equivalent of junk food, but something that dresses itself up as LITERATURE and turns out to be hollow just pisses me off. Particularly, when it's in one of my favorite sub-genre's of scifi.

This book is nothing like that.

This book is the first one that made me think that there may not be a happy ending. There was....something the last few pages of
Patrick D'Orazio
Nov 05, 2010 Patrick D'Orazio rated it it was amazing
ordered this book based on Amazon connecting the dots: I like apocalyptic fiction and this book obviously qualifies, so they recommended it to me. Often I prefer a darker vision than the author had here, but the author's vision of the future did not disappoint. I was very glad I took a chance on this one.

You know the story if you have read the description above and the other reviews. We are introduced to Eric, both the boy and the man, who has experienced two book end journeys through the apoc
Sep 30, 2008 Schnaucl rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in post-apocalypse stories
Recommended to Schnaucl by: Leah Cutter
Another book I quite enjoyed. In some ways it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's The Road in that it was an older man walking with a child (or in this case, children) across a post apocalyptic America. There were some major differences, this apocalypse was caused by plague, not nuclear bombs, and in this book there are actually other people for the characters to interact with and the author doesn't try to be new and exciting by ignoring rules of grammar and never giving the characters names (than ...more
Oct 27, 2011 AtomicMassUnit rated it liked it
A passable post-apocalypse book. What I found interesting was that this was the first post-apocalypse story I have read where not a enough truly competent people survived to at least start rebuilding civilization. (possible spoiler alert) What disturbed me about this post-apocalypse was that 60+ years down the road, the parts of civilization that were left behind have started to poison the environment and who the people who were left. Things like buried oil and gas tanks finally giving way and s ...more
Mar 17, 2010 Rob rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed reading this book. Eric is a wonderful character and showing him as a boy and an old man really makes this book work for me. Do not expect a great epic story a world collapsing, that is not what the book aims for. Van Pelt describes the apocalypse on a personal level if you will. It's one of the better books I have read this year. Summer of the Apocalypse has been on my wishlist for a while. After having read it, I regret not getting it sooner.

Full Random Comments review
Feb 15, 2014 Jim rated it liked it
Although it is a post-apocalyptic story of a man searching for books sixty years after the plague nearly wipes out mankind, to me it is more about the survival of knowledge and coming to understand the love and bonds of family (especially father-son relationships). Told in two timelines (one that of a fifteen-year old boy struggling to survive, and finding his love; the other, a seventy-five year old man trying to convince his son and others of the importance of books and technology). I enjoyed ...more
Oct 09, 2010 Nadir rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
This novel is well written and is more literature at some points that post-apocalyptic "thriller." That said, it has plenty of compelling, action-oriented moments, but it's not bubble-gum like other titles in the genre. The manner in which the book alternates back and forth between the main character as a teen just when pandemic hits to him as a 75-year-old trying to help the living with the knowledge of the "Gone Times" made this almost like two separate by related short stories, told at the sa ...more
Matt Arnold
excellent book

Really enjoyed this one. A real page turner that pretty much refuses to be put down. The character of Eric is fascinating when you imagine all the events if his life. Very enjoyable read.
Glen Robinson
Mar 14, 2015 Glen Robinson rated it it was amazing
Summer of the Apocalypse stands head and shoulders above pretty much any dystopian story I have read, including my own Infinity’s Reach, simply because it is personal. It’s the story of one man, spanning actually two stories. One takes place when Eric, the main character, is 75 and is one of the last survivors of the disease that destroyed 99 percent of humanity 60 years before. The second story tells of his survival of the plague when he was 15. Each chapter shifts back and forth between the tw ...more
Jenee Rager
Jan 09, 2014 Jenee Rager rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopian, ya
This book has the interesting distinction of being both unique to the dystopian genre and not covering new ground. That's only possible because the story is told in two parallel story lines. Both story lines feature Eric.

In one he is a fifteen year old boy, trying to reunite with his father, after a mysterious flu wipes out 99% of the population. This is the portion of the novel that really doesn't explore too much new territory, and really left me wanting more. The whole section takes place ab
Jun 29, 2016 WizardBooks rated it really liked it
In this book, we experience Eric's life in a post-apocalyptic Denver from two time periods: when he was fifteen years old and it first hit, and when he is 75, and the world is slowly descending into barbarism. Not barbarism in the colloquial sense of the word, meaning cruelty, but the slow extinguishing of knowledge, and a return to a primitive lifestyle both good and bad. Old Eric sees the long-term problems of this, and decides to go on a long journey to a college library in order to recover t ...more
Krystl Louwagie
Dec 18, 2010 Krystl Louwagie rated it really liked it
I struggled between 3 and 4 stars for this book a lot. I liked it largely because the subject matter really interests me-apocalyptic future-these books always have a unique and creepy feel to them that always seems all their own, and I can't *not* like them.

This novel was set up that every other chapter was in the past (when the disease started and the boy was about 15) to present (when the "boy" is about 70, technology is completely gone, and health issues keep getting worse for his community,
Nick Sayce
Jul 09, 2013 Nick Sayce rated it liked it
This book is good, but I have to disagree with a lot of people on here who say this is better than The Road. The Road is a classic book, full of human endeavour, heartache and pain. And yet has truly uplifting moments brought on simply by finding a can of coke or eating peaches in an abandoned bomb shelter.
The Summer of the Apocalypse on the other hand never truly grabbed me, it's all a bit nice I guess and at no point do you ever feel like the main character is in any real danger.
Personally I f
Satisfying read about a teenaged boy coming of age in the aftermath of a plague that wipes out 99% of humans. Very realistic on how various sectors would react and not overly dramatic on the horrors. The focus is on the resilience and heart of the boy as the epitome of what is worth preserving. A journey to look for his father is paralleled by another journey of him as an old man 70 years later to seek out books from the University of Colorado library. As civilization reverts to primitive agricu ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Jacob rated it liked it
I guess this is technically fantasy because a few almost mystical things happen that aren't explained, repeated, or at all predictable. However, those things don't really affect the story other than to enrich it and make clear it's an "atmosphere" type of story, so I'm still calling it science fiction.

In this case the atmosphere is an apocalyptic near future where a super cold or flu wipes out over 90% of the human population. The main character, Eric, is an old man and one of the last to rememb
Well, this was strange-- This book was so good I couldn't read it anymore. Both the author and I are Colorado natives, and this harrowing tale was made so viscerally real by the local details that I know intimately well. I couldn't handle it. Immediately knowing exactly where everything that was mentioned was, knowing exactly what the author meant, FEELING the story as a result of this--was too much. Because the story was about something really scary happening here. I saw my mom and dad in the m ...more
Apr 15, 2013 TheDenizen rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Kinda disappointing. Some of the prose is wonderfully evocative and the story starts out with plenty of promise, but it really peters out about halfway through. The parallel timelines structure is interesting, but the arc of young Eric's story of survival in the immediate aftermath of the plague goes nowhere. Old Eric's journey sixty years later works much better, but starts chucking one after another deus ex machina at the reader by the end.

Also, there were a few weird teases at some kind of ti
Sep 21, 2011 Fred rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 24, 2016 Zachary rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Not unusual basis of PA story, 75 year old man and his 10 year old grandson walking across part of country; most everyone dead years ago of plague - tension between "Gone Time" survivors and the ones born after.

The writing is good. And there are a number of interesting twists and unusual features to this book. Combining the 75 year old Eric's story with the 15 year old Eric's story (which takes place during the plague year) was moving and effective.

(view spoiler)
May 03, 2011 Scott rated it really liked it
Good post-apocalypse story told from the split perspectives of a cocky teenager and a wizened old man, the same person in this story. Some amusing post-apoc ideas (kids named after cars, tribals, fear of the "Old Science," etc) with very human driven themes (father-son relationships, living in the past, first love). I really enjoyed the relationship between Leda and Eric. Similar setting as McCormac's The Road (or the Fallout games) but not nearly as depressing. I felt the ending wrapped up a li ...more
Apr 21, 2011 Jeremy rated it really liked it
A Father/Son allegory speculative fiction about a plague that kills 90% of people in the early 90's, told alternatively by Eric as a 15 year old boy and 75 year old man.

It's a similar approach to Octavia E Butler's "Parable of the Sower" in which the protagonist walks along deserted freeways, in this case to get from Littleton to Boulder, CO.

Though some of the writing is a little hyperbolic, I was engrossed enough to finish this story in just a few sessions.

This book falls on the closer-to-rea
Nov 12, 2014 Victoria rated it liked it
This started really well - both strands of the story had enough tension to keep it rolling along and the writing is vivid with some beautiful imagery. However, it petered out about two thirds through for me. The action felt curiously flat in the final battle scene and I didn't feel any sense of real drama. It was a thought- provoking read though - interesting that Eric, as a relic of the Gone Days, feels the only way for mankind to progress us to resurrect the old technologies, where's the young ...more
Shannon Kelleher
Apr 07, 2015 Shannon Kelleher rated it liked it
So a book written at a very specific time and place, so much that it's hard to take in the full picture. I also didn't buy the timelines, yes he had to make it 60 years in order to have the main protagonist be old enough during the end AND still be alive and vital in the 'present', but the various peoples he meets are either too far removed from the end OR too close to the time before. It creates a jarring narative that distracts from some of the story elements. There are also several hanging th ...more
Oct 22, 2016 Donna rated it liked it
Elderly plague survivor Eric heads to Boulder, Colorado, hoping to use its library to help his community which is struggling with stillbirths and miscarriages.

Good thing: I felt like Eric was someone I might really know - his actions were realistic and I was pulling for him to succeed.

Bad thing: The timeline switching back and forth from Eric as a 15 year old to Eric at 75 didn't work well for me.

An interesting post-apocalyptic book that focuses on the long-term effects of civilization's possibl
Jan 23, 2013 Jim rated it liked it
A lot to like here, but the book is marred by many typos and a seeming confusion about what the author thinks about technology/learning/modernity. I was further confused as to why he saw his younger self passing by and his younger self saw him, as ghostly apparitions. It made no sense for it to be there and was completely out of context. Also, I'm confused as to why Pope would want to save books for a doomed species. Ultimately, despite some excellent characters, these problems and the jarring n ...more
May 06, 2015 Ava rated it liked it
First of all, there are so many spelling and grammar errors that make it difficult to concentrate on reading. Things like "sombody", not capitalizing the first letter of a sentence, and misspelling the name of a historical figure are not acceptable in a published book. Additionally, the ending was a bit boring. Other than that, it was an okay story. I liked how the story switched from the story of Eric's past to his sixty-year-old self.
Ann M
Good post-apocalyptic story, set 60 years after a plague destroys most people. Alternating chapters aren't a great way to tell a story, but it works well enough. A few big errors, such as the qualities of plutonium. The worst part is the lack of copyediting. Lots of mistakes, including basic ones, your for you are, Marshall law for martial law. Also quite a few unaccounted for capitalizations -- Cinnamon?
Lori Wilson
Jul 19, 2010 Lori Wilson rated it liked it
FINALLY finished this book! It was very wordy, reminded me of "The Road", but not quite that bad! I enjoyed the fact that the story takes place near Boulder Colorado... about 50 years after nearly everyone dies off from a major flu epidemic. What I learned with this book is that life as we are currently living it is indeed extremely fragile! In the end, it seems mother nature will always be the survivor!
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