Afterburner, the first book in the NEXT series by Scott Nicholson is a heavy, post-apocalyptic adventure that will not let you up for one second. Afterburn is an intense ride in the same vein as classic, apocalypse fiction, but in a modern and diverse narrative. The book takes place in a pre-established world that is in Scott’s AFTER series, but it can be read as a stand-alone.
It is five years after a solar storm wiped out the human race and spawned a race of bizarre mutants. A few survivors are left and their life has become a routine battle for survival. Rachel Wheeler is the main character in this book, even though it touches on a lot of POVs within this short story. Rachel is a half mutant that has been living in a military bunker with two teens, her boyfriend and a mutant baby. Right there could give Nicholson fodder for a crazy story, but he expands it to include a few other characters, survivors the group meets up with, loners and even a military division.
I never quite found a set goal to the book. It was survivors, surviving and you only get a somewhat goal until the very end. Then the book ends leaving you wanting more. He introduces a lot of things in this book and there are tons of plot threads that will have to be wrapped up in later books. I would recommend having the next one lined up before you start this one so you can move right along.
Overall, it was a good book. Nicholson can tell a good story. His characters can interact a little scripted, but this is the usual case within a post apocalyptic novel of this like. It really did remind me of the classic apocalypse novels, like Alas, Babylon and Lucifer’s Hammer. Which is high praise for this book. I wish it was longer and I wish there was more emphasis on the characters. But, I did enjoy it. I would also recommend reading his AFTER series before this one. You don’t need it, but I think it would enhance this book greatly.
Narration: The narration was excellent. I have to say Kevin Clay was perfect for the book and added to it.