Susan's Reviews > Collapse

Collapse by Richard Stephenson
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's review
Aug 04, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: dystopia, fiction, political, thriller, political-history, kindle-edition, historical-fiction

It has taken some serious brainpower to come up with all these strands of the story and to weave them into something that hangs together. And this author has done it successfully, producing a fascinating and complex story of dystopian intrigue, adventure and a vision for the United States in the year 2027. What struck me was how realistic the possibility was that these things could happen, while I wonder how many others would think that a collapse of the US economy would be terribly unlikely. Perhaps this book may make some folks think twice.

While other reviewers will recap the story, I'll spare you the details and say that the action began from the first page and continued at break neck pace, from prison breakouts to quirky billionaire, two-timing wife to small town deputy, bankrupt venture capitalist living in a cardboard box to Category Five storms ravaging the southeast. Then there was the electromagnetic pulse, rioting in Denver, an attack on the White House ... and that's before we get to artificial intelligence, Iran, Israel and the EU.

In short, when the focus was on technology, science, politics, economics, or problems facing the American public or individuals in the story, the book was at it's best. Luckily that was well over 90% of the time and I raced through it in an evening and the next morning. There is no lack of story here and it was a book that made me want to keep reading.

The characters are recognizable and the interpersonal relationships seem well explored but leave room for further work if the characters reappear in future books. I would like to see improvement in both those areas, and think the interactions could be more believable and less involved in mainly superficial dialogue.

I am not a prude but I objected to graphic sexual content added to the story near the end of the book. It was simply out of character with the rest of the action and also seemed to be added just for shock or salacious value. If it wasn't there the story would not be hurt at all, which says to me that these details serve no valid story telling purpose.

While I would normally give this book three stars, the subject matter is important and thus I've bumped it up to four. With a good editor, this could easily rate the extra star on content alone. The plot is easy to understand but there are a number of threads of it, all working well together.

Note: While some scenes involve graphic violence I was able to overlook them, understanding the way they likely fit into the goals of the author to interest his probable target audience. I just don't think he needs quite the amount of details he adds in the violent scenes. It seems somewhat gratuitous and think it is shortsighted of the author. I hope that this is corrected in future editions of this book and is not repeated in any other books in this series. If the goal is to help some readers see that there may be dangers down the road if we continue on our path, there is no sense turning off those who would find scenes involving skin ripped from throats distasteful.

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Reading Progress

August 4, 2012 – Shelved
August 4, 2012 – Shelved as: dystopia
August 4, 2012 – Shelved as: fiction
August 4, 2012 – Shelved as: political
August 4, 2012 – Shelved as: thriller
August 4, 2012 – Shelved as: political-history
August 4, 2012 – Shelved as: kindle-edition
August 4, 2012 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
August 5, 2012 – Started Reading
August 5, 2012 –
15.0% "Action packed and believable, even though set in 2027."
August 5, 2012 –
21.0% "Believable and more believable, both when settings are in Washington or a small town in Texas. But never ever would the director of the CIA refer to Iran in the relative privacy of a cabinet meeting as "the Great Republic of Iran" even if they had christened themselves that."
August 5, 2012 –
45.0% "Every so often something doesn't ring true but overall the details are tied up neatly. The story moves righ along and the whole time I'm wondering what the Iranians are up to, whether the prisoners will survive, if the President is surrounded by traitors, and how the Billionaire might save h umanity. Cool beans"
August 5, 2012 –
64.0% "Escaped convicts facing an ash storm, the President being rushed to the bunker,, a Texas town deluged with hurricane waters and set-upon by bad guys, a cop trying to do his job and a doc being pressed into service to save lives. One can't say this book is uneventful."
August 5, 2012 –
73.0% "And now an EMP follows the blast from an nuclear explosion plunges the eastern half of the country into darkness and back to the stone age. This is the kind of thing I know could happen at any time and few of us could survive what would follow. Gripping and beyond horrifying."
August 6, 2012 –
86.0% "I could do without the side story dealing with the SEAL and escaping prisoners, which is where the majority of the violence comes in, but waiting to see if it does indeed play an integral part in the plot."
August 6, 2012 –
96.0% "Corny treatment of the interpersonal discussions but the story is being advanced well. Another three pages we could have done without was the graphic sex scene."
August 6, 2012 –
98.0% "Wow. It took some kind of complex brain to come up with all the strands of this story and weave them together. No way is it going to be wrapped up in the next dozen pages. And good luck getting most Americans to see even the most logical parts of the story as possibilities. There are parts I could entirely buy, however. Looks like I need to start some serious exercise program and learn how to make slimy water potable"
August 6, 2012 – Finished Reading

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