Monthly Mini Review
Solar Fury by EA Chance, narrated by Eva Kaminsky – C+ I came across this book recently and saw it was available via Audible Plus with a trusted narrator so I decided to give it a try. The premise was really fascinating; a solar flare causes society to falter and suddenly nothing works anymore. No satellites, no GPS, no phones, no internet. The lead character is Dr. Riley Poole. She’s an orthopaedic surgeon who’s at a conference in Washington DC with her young teenage daughter, Julia, when the solar flare occurs. Riley is a widow with 3 children – that’s right -3. The other two were left at home in Colorado with her parents. The other two children don’t feature strongly in the book, apart from being the motivation for Riley to get home to them. It was also unclear exactly why Riley took Julia with her given that poor Julia had to spend her days in the hotel room while Riley was the conference. They did eat meals together and did some sightseeing after hours but as holidays for a teenager go, it wasn’t ideal. At the conference. Riley meets Dr. Neil Cooper (“Coop”), a respected heart surgeon and they strike up a flirtation. After the solar flare, Riley, Julia and Coop, together with a young girl whose parents are missing, go on the road trying to make it to Riley’s family in Colorado. Over the course of the book, Coop and Riley become closer and there is a romantic HEA for them by the end. (That’s not really a spoiler – there are 2 other books in the series and the blurb for book 2 makes it obvious.)
I’m not an expert on solar flares but the setup seemed authentic to me and made for an interesting post-apocalyptic premise. But from there, things fell down a bit.
The narration was very good, as I’ve come to expect from Eva Kaminsky, but Riley often annoyed me. The story was mainly from Riley’s point of view, with some parts from Julia’s perspective. Riley made some very unwise choices and was extremely judgemental of Coop. For example, they come across a downed commercial plane. There are 2 survivors but one man is clearly not going to make it. The kind of medical care he’d need to have a chance of survival (and at that point even that chance would be small) is just not available. They’re miles from anywhere and society has basically broken down. There are no hospitals, they have no facilities. There’s nothing they can do for him to treat the injuries they can see – and they strongly suspect there are ones they can’t. But they do have some morphine. Coop wants to give the man a double dose. Riley insists that would be murder and they end up only giving him a single dose. Some of Riley’s judgements have significant consequences for the group – and when they occur, Riley’s response causes further risk and loss.
From the blurb, I expected Riley was going to be a kickass survivor-type but mostly, it was Coop who came up with options and solutions and who kept them alive. There were some exceptions to that – Riley wasn’t always wrong and there were some things she did which showed how ruthless she could be – but her characterisation was inconsistent and not as dynamic as I wanted.
I also didn’t understand exactly how society broke down so completely so quickly. The military for example apparently all just deserted. The police did too? There were more than a few questions I had about how everything worked.There was also some moralising I detected which made me wonder. It wasn’t quite “no sex before marriage” but it was adjacent to it. I had been excited to find a post-apocalyptic series I could get into. I was just in the mood for it actually. I did finish Solar Fury – largely on the strength of the narration, which also bumped up my grade, but I won’t be continuing with the series.
A review of this book will be up soon at Dear Author.
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