Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Boiling Point

Boiling Point
by Tom Merritt

When the US goes broke, the states break loose and people across the country get caught in the chaos. The Lakota rise up in the north and Texas breaks free in the south. Meanwhile, Steve just wants to get back to Illinois with his love life intact. Mack, an Ozark militia member doesn't want his friend to sign up but knows they can't succeed without him. And a Texas Congressman struggles with his conscience and a manipulative Governor. Can the country stay together? Can the people?

Tom Merritt is a podcaster well known in the TwiT and Frogpants circles and it was on Fourcast, a podcast about predictions for the future, that I heard about his book. I liked the idea when Tom described it on the episode, so I picked up the $5.00 copy for Kindle.

I’m not sure what I was expecting for this book. It isn’t the sort of book that I normally read and I think that caught me a little off guard. I liked it, but it didn’t hold impress me.

I think part of that was the format in which it was written. The US is splitting up into different geo-cultural chunks, so Merritt writes short first person sections from characters in the different areas. I found it difficult to follow at first because I couldn’t always keep the characters straight. Most of them have very similar narrative voices during the first third of the book. I eventually figured it out, but it definitely slowed me down when I was getting into the story.

Also I think I struggled with this book a bit because the book takes place primarily down South and out West. The whole point of the story is that these areas no longer feel united as one nation and decide to form smaller nations with similar economic and cultural communities, but it was hard for me to relate to these areas. I’m a born and raised Connecticutter, so I didn’t feel like I had the kind of cultural background to relate to the Texas cessation or the KenTen alliance or the Ozark militia. The northeast, especially New England, wasn’t featured in this book much at all and I feel like if there was some more inclusion with how they were trying to adapt to the situation, I would have been able to connect to the stories more.

I’m not saying Northeast folk won’t like this book or anything. It just felt weirdly alien and disconnected from me.

Overall, I liked it. It’s a little choppy and some of the writing felt a little off to me, but it wasn’t bad. If you like speculation fiction about the future in the US, I’d recommend at least having a look. There was some interesting insight into how people behave in stressful situations and if that appeals to you, you might be interested.

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