Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fight For Power by Eric Walters

Fight For Pow3r is the exciting second novel in Walters' Power of Three series. It's now been sixty-six days since the catastrophic crash of computers bringing modern life to a halt. Nothing electronic works forcing society into an agrarian existence. Since then Adam and his family along with Herb, a former CIA agent and others have organized their neighbourhood into a community working together to survive the catastrophe.

Set in a location geographically similar to a neighbourhood in Mississauga Ontario, the story opens with Adam and the rest of the Eden Mills community dealing with the aftermath of blowing up a bridge to save their community from an attack by another band of survivors. After a nearby neighbourhood, Olde Burnham was destroyed by a group of heavily armed survivors to the north, Adam's group determined that they were planning a major attack on their neighbourhood. This group appeared to be made up of ex-military.b Herb orders Brett and his team to search the bodies and vehicles for anything that can be used including weapons and body armour.

Back in their neighbourhood the committee made up of Adam's mother, Herb, Judge Roberts, Councilor Stevens, the fire chief, two engineers, a lawyer, Howie who was one of Adam's mother's police officers, Lori's father, Mr. Peterson and two others, debate how to follow up the attack. Herb tells the Eden Mills group that unless they attack first their fate will be the same as the Olde Burnham neighbourhood. They go on the offensive, bombing the bridge leading to their side of the river, killing four hundred and eighty three men from the military compound. After scavenging for supplies and weapons from the bodies, Herb is determined to destroy the remainder of the group. He believes that unless every single person in the marauding group is killed they will continue to attack them.

First he orders Brett to take a group of trusted men to the far side of the bridge to make sure that any scouting party sent out from the military compound does not return alive. Then Herb convinces the committee to sanction the attack on the compound using two hundred and forty men and women from the neighbourhood.

Prior to the attack, Adam learns that they have a prisoner, named Quinn, who was left after the assault on Olde Burnham. Herb takes Adam to talk to Quinn who has been uncooperative. When Herb leaves a short time later to get coffee, a woman bursts into the room threatening to kill Quinn. Adam manages to defuse the situation until Herb returns with the guard. However, Adam is shocked when Herb tells him the entire situation was staged in order to get Quinn to cooperate and provide them with information about the compound. Herb tells Adam that while he is important to make sure they survive, Adam's strong conscience will be important to help rebuild society when things improve.

When they do attack the compound they find it abandoned but they discover forty-seven women and children who have been kept as prisoners in a building. At first Herb does not want to take these people to Eden Mills, but Adam insists they take them back with them. They also find an old Cessna and manage to push it back to the neighbourhood where repairing the engine becomes a priority.

Throughout all of this Adam becomes increasingly alarmed at Brett's strange pleasure in killing and his blood lust for battle. Brett tells Adam that he loves the high, the rush adrenaline produces and that he just wants more and more. Brett admits to Adam that he admired what the men from the compound even though they locked the women and children up to starve to death because they were prepared to do whatever they needed to in order to survive. Brett's attitude horrifies Adam, who is becoming increasingly wary of his strange behaviour.

When they are in the forest hunting deer, Adam inadvertently brings down one deer. A second deer is killed. However two young kids also out hunting insist that the second deer killed is theirs. Brett violently threatens the boy and girl leaving Adam to intervene. Adam tells Leonard and Penelope that they will share the deer meat with them and despite Brett's insistence that they do not, this is what the committee and Herb agree to do. When Adam, Todd and Lori help Leonard take his share of the meet home, they meet his family, his grandfather Sheldon and his Aunt Mary and his mother Amy who are living in tents, off the land in the forest.

Herb decides to send Brett and his small patrol out at night to learn what is happening outside the walls. Howie has indicated that things outside the neighbourhood walls are growing increasingly tense during the day. As a result Herb feels it would be wise to know what is happening at night too. Brett chooses nine people to be on his patrol including Tim and Owen, two boys Adam knew well from high school. They dress in black and slip over the fence each night to conduct their patrols.


Two unexpected events send the neighbourhood into a crisis that leads to a dramatic showdown.First, a condominium bordering the western side of the neighbourhood is set afire, leaving many homeless. Although Herb does not want to help these people, Adam once again insists that the least they can do is to find sleeping bags and tents for them. Those homeless are allowed to set up tents outside the wall of the neighbourhood but Herb and the committee are insistent that they receive no other help.

And then one night the tent community is attacked by men in black who set fire to the tents and kill many of the condo fire survivors. At dawn Herb, Adam and others go out to assess the damage. The identity of the attacks is unknown and the motive for the attack puzzling since nothing was taken. No longer safe outside the walls of the neighbourhood, Herb comes up with a unique solution to help the survivors. Soon however, Adam learns the truth of the attack and that the greatest danger they are all facing is from within their own community.

Discussion

The Fight For Power is an thrilling second novel with a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers desperate to read the final novel. Narrated by Adam, the story flows easily, his voice believable and remarkably mature for a young person whose world has been completely turned upside down. Yet for all his maturity, Adam is still a typical teen, questioning the actions of the adults in his life. His questioning nature is characterized by strong morals and an active conscience. He wants to help everyone and he wants to give most people the "benefit of the doubt" while struggling to sort out the morality of their decisions. Although he admires Herb, he's not entirely sure he trusts him and recognizes that Herb is only feeding him the information he needs him to know.

In direct contrast to Adam are the two most interesting characters in the novel, Herb and Brett. Herb is a former CIA agent and has admitted to doing many terrible things. He has a way of referring to people in a derogatory manner. When he and Adam are discussing what to do with possible survivors of the bridge attack, Herb tells Adam they may have to "take action" which upsets Adam. Herb tells Adam, "...It's on me. I wouldn't leave a dog to die in pain." to which Adam responds, "But we're not talking about dogs..." When Adam is arguing with Herb about taking in the women and children they have found at the compound, Herb makes compares the survivors to garbage when he states "It's not that simple. You can walk by a piece of garbage on the ground, but once you pick it up you have the responsibility." Again Adam reminds Herb that people are not garbage.

Brett who was a rookie police officer under Adam's mother's command, turns more violent as the novel progresses. He is impulsive and over reacts in almost every situation involving conflict. At first he is friendly towards Adam, but gradually that friendliness turns to contempt. His true personality is gradually revealed through his actions. He begins making derogatory remarks about Adam's mother and his girlfriend, Lori. The bloodlust Brett experiences when out hunting for deer frightens Adam who doesn't realize that it is this same excitement of the hunt that will draw him into hunting humans outside the walls at night. It is a deadly miscalculation on Adam's part. One night when Brett arrives back at Eden Mills with two of his team dead, he is questioned by Herb and Adam's mother. His attitude is cocky and confrontational. When Herb and the committee learn what Brett has been involved in outside the walls of Eden Mills, Herb recognizes the danger Brett has become and knows he must act.

Herb is able to recognize what Brett really is because he sees himself in Brett. Brett represents Herb when he was younger, a man addicted to the adrenaline rush and who learns to be a weapon. Brett describes his actions as "...I wasn't thinking, I was feeling. Like I said, it's a rush." Herb tells Adam that in the end "he and I are both animals, but I believe that we are basically two different types of animals." Herb states that he used Brett as a weapon just as the agency used him but that he likes to believe that he was motivated "by a sense of duty." Where they differ is that Brett enjoys the killing and feels no remorse for what he has done. So despite being similar in their natures, the strongest conflict in the novel exists between these two characters. This results in the ultimate showdown that creates the climax of this novel.

The Rule of 3 series will definitely appeal to 12 to 14 year old boys who are looking for an exciting survival story. Walters tackles the ethical problems and difficult decisions that survivors of an apocalypse might encounter but is never heavy-handed in his treatment. Walters is a Canadian author who has been quietly toiling away at his craft since 1994, having penned over ninety books since that time. Many of those books are solid reads that circulate well from libraries and which find themselves on class booklists. Walters has stated that one of the main themes in his novels is the ability to effect change in one's life and to survive difficult situations. This view is based on his own personal experiences growing up when he lost his mother to cancer at age four and watched his father struggle to raise him and his older sister while coping with mental and physical health issues and unemployment.

Overall Fight For Power is a great second book to a very exciting series. I wanted to keep reading and reading, the ending coming all too soon. Well written, with a creative cover to draw readers in. Highly recommended!

Book Details:

Fight For Power by Eric Walters
New York: Farrar Straus Giroux      2015
346 pp.


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