Review: “The Final Day” by William R. Forstchen

The Final Day: A John Matherson Novel by William R. Forstchen. Forge Books. 480 pages.

I am a big fan of William Forstchen as an author. He’s a history professor who writes science fiction and revisionist history with lots of Civil War bent. This is the third book in a series that starts with One Second After, the story of a small college town in North Carolina and how they react when America is attacked with an EMP burst that eliminates all electrical power in the country. It continues with One Year After, based on the same town and people, but dealing with the same issues a year after the tragic day of the initial attack. The Final Day is set two years after the initial attack.

First the good news. Forstchen is an accomplished writer, and not only gives us a real sense of being right there in the community, which is incidentally based on his actual town and college where he teaches. He also gets into the personal lives of the characters and makes us really care about what happens to them. That’s always good.

In addition, Forstchen is effective in being able to write scenes of combat that are realistic and gripping, which one can follow and feel part of.

Now the bad news. As in many series, the series seems to suffer as it continues. The first book is a classic, and created waves of controversy when it was written. In fact, many people believe it was the case for the beginning of the Prepper movement, those who believe in preparing for the inevitable end of society by stocking up on weapons, food and gasoline. It was this movement that somewhat fostered the continuation of this series, and its politics is reflected more and more as the series goes on.

In fact, that’s probably the biggest issue I have with the last book. Action scenes in the books go from about 60 percent in the first book, to thirty percent in the second book, to less than ten percent in the third book. Most of The Final Day, in fact, is dialog between a general and a colonel about what they should do, how they world has gone to hell in a handbasket and who is to blame. There are some clever ideas that are shared, I will admit; but for the most part, the book is full of political posturing and screaming bureaucrats that need to be taken care of.

I am sure that Forstchen has some of his followers who will enjoy his positions that he shares here. But his storytelling falters in lieu of his soapbox preaching. Too bad: I expected more.

I give it two stars out of five.