“Afterlight” by Alex Scarrow is the sequel to the deeply troubling “Last Light” (Which I reviewed here) although it should be stressed that it isn’t really necessary to have to read “Last Light” to understand or enjoy the sequel. I say deeply troubling, but that probably says more about how disturbing I find the concept of total social breakdown.
The novel tells the story of a group of survivors of the complete collapse of civilisation following the sudden and terminal interruption of the global oil supply. Where Scarrow really puts the frighteners in is in his description of how fragile western society is, and how many things (clean water, heat, light, law and order) we take for granted. In particular, the picture he paints of gangs of roaming teenage gangs raping and murdering without remorse, or of religion being used as a means of manipulating desperate mobs of ordinary people is quite thought provoking because it rings true. Certain images, like those of families who choose to collectively commit suicide with sleeping tablets, huddled together in beds, stayed with me well after I finished the novel. As I said, Scarrow delivers because the world he creates has upsetting credibility.
It’s an absolute page-turner. I’m a leisurely enough reader, but I finished this in two days. I sincerely hope he writes another sequel, because the story of recovery is just as interesting as the initial story of collapse.