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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 4 November 2013
If you haven't discovered Alex Scarrow you don't know what you are missing. This is one book of a two book story - it really made me sit up and think. Awesome. Check him out, you won't regret it.
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on 19 July 2012
whilst a few details stretch the imagination a bit (e.g. growing vegetables on old oil platforms), the central messages that the book confers - our total dependence on oil, our rapid population growth, and lack of self-sufficency in the UK with regard to many critical items makes this book a must-read for anyone who has an eye on the future.

Scarrow knows the UK and it's citizens well. Apart from being frightening it is a terrific story.

highly recommended but I do recommend you read 'last light' first

More please Alex !
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on 26 June 2010
This book is a sequel to Alex Scarrow's Last Light and my review of that book almost stands as a review of this one. It is not necessary to have read Last Light to understand this book, but it helps in places, particularly the references to Andy Sutherland who died in Last Light, but whose presence haunts the minds of the main characters in Afterlight. I'd give this book 1/5 for the plot - real boilerplate stuff. Like Last Light, this book explains the oil problem (for the purposes of his plot, the elimination of oil as an energy source) in simplistic James Bond-like terms: as an unexplained but highly effective series of explosions at the main petroleum and oil producing centres across the globe (p 38 and 51). Scarrow mistakenly assumes his simplistic scenario leads in the same direction as peak oil. He ignores the many undamaged oil producing facilities (p 71) and the reality and potential for coal. It is a sign of a lazy plot and throughout the book the reader finds it difficult to forget the unlikelihood of this fundamental assumption of the plot.

The plot goes well for the first half of the book and provides the thoughtful reader with some scenarios which can be used in framing and planning our own preparations for societal or economic collapse. The second half of the book is what I imagine a zombie novel might be: it's a page-turner, but Scarrow opts for the easy, simple plot (rape, assault, suicide, scapegoating, killing, a race between the good and the bad to the vulnerable home of the good) rather than a plot anchored in the peculiarities of life in UK in 2020 without abundant cheap energy. By the time Scarrow reaches page 454 he appears to realize he's lost the plot and so rounds off the book with a brief "happy chapter" that comes out of nowhere and in which everyone lives happily ever after.

I have thought a lot about the role and effectiveness of the police, emergency services and the military in a serious, unending economic collapse, so I looked forward to reading Scarrow's take on this. He has three scenarios: the first is that the military guards at refuge centres break their own rules when they become overwhelmed by their sympathy with the thousands left outside . More people come in, the refuge's supplies are exhausted and the refuge collapses. We hear little of this scenario (but see p 89 and p 122). His second scenario is that the refuge's administrator cultivates a loyal troop of "child soldiers" whose irrational, exuberant violence cowers many people, including the military (p 379). His third scenario is that the soldiers and police go feral and use their own arms and training to plunder supplies and sex (p 123).

I will not provide any plot spoilers, but will mention Scarrow's imaginings of the future which may help those who would appreciate someone else's view of possible collapse scenarios.
* People who had prepared for collapse by establishing themselves as self sufficient had their places plundered as "The one thing they didn't have, though, was guns." (p 29)
* People who stockpiled food lasted only as long as their stockpile (p 82)
* Police and volunteers staff official road blocks out of London, but these quickly turn into opportunities to plunder fleeing citizens (p 148)
* "Survival through those first few weeks ... Everyone had done something they weren't proud of to stay alive" (p 29)
* Without electricity, water supplies stopped running and cholera became endemic in London within a week (p 29)
* Just-in-time warehousing and logistics collapsed on the first day of the crisis (p 39) as did share markets (and, thus, retirement incomes) (p 51). Yet despite this, for some days most people failed to appreciate the magnitude and longevity/ permanence of the change engulfing them.
* There were no government contingency plans for such a crisis (p 53). The government promptly requisitioned sites for refuges and staffed them with professionally qualified people (p 63), but Scarrow gives insufficient attention to how and why these refuges collapsed. Central planning failed because the senior bureaucrats were too close to politicians who wanted to "gild the lily" rather than confront the truth (p 233)
* In the 3-4 years immediately following the collapse, radical hybrid fundamentalist cults emerged, brutal to outsiders, questioners and non-believers. Scapegoating was at the core of their ideology (p 251)
4/5 for these points - good jumping off ideas for your own planning.
The greatest virtue of the book is the way Scarrow depicts a deep and abiding longing for the high-energy past which set the scene for the crisis in the first place. This longing holds people back from accommodating themselves to a low energy future. Scarrow also describes usefully the tensions between democracy and authoritarianism in surviving communities. In doing so he depicts the spread of false and vicious rumours to ostracize those who represent a danger to the power of incumbents or those who would replace them (p 291). Scarrow reminds us that true toughness is not the load you can benchpress or how big a gun you own and use - it's how much crap you can endure (p 415). 5/5 for recognizing the importance of these themes.
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on 29 October 2012
Last light was excellent and I had bought both Last light and Afterlight together.
Reading the follow up straight away definitley adds to the reading experience in this case.
Set 10 years after the oil crash we see how the original players are coping and have adapted. Set on an oil rig off the norfolk coast its an entertaining read.
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on 18 September 2013
I have thoroughly enjoyed the thought provoking efforts of Alex Scarrow in both Last Light and Afterlight. More should read and consider his message.
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on 16 December 2012
Excellent conclusion to Last Light. Afterlight leaps tens years after the 'crash' and continues the story of the Sutherlands. Author does a great job capturing the hardships and struggles of everyday life for the few survivors. Once of the most compelling books I've read recently.
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on 4 November 2013
Having read Last Light this finishes the Sutherland's story in a great way. A future I hope never comes to fruition.
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on 26 June 2016
Good premise, but this quickly feel into the "middle class apocalypse" trap. You know, where it describes the end of the world from the perspective of people who now have to "search for water". A bit like most of the worlds population currently have to on a daily basis.

Let's not forget the threat of the nasty working classes too, who all seem to have turned into feral hoodies. A lot of them seem to to be black too, but we cant say this is racist because the author has a nice black lady introduced ealry on, who even speaks in a cod-Jamaican accent.

The only saving grace for this is that it was possibly written for "young adults", but I'm not sure if that is true or not. It certainly stretches credibility and there can be little empathy for the main characters
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on 16 August 2010
This was an excellent book, a follow-up to Last Light. It was violent in parts but it was very exciting, - the sort of book that you didn't want to put down. I give it 10 out of 10.
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on 25 August 2012
Read it straight away after afterlight.
I found it chilling and depressing and hard to put down.

regardless of all else, oil will run out soon and there are a lot of people to sustain. About time we all took responsibility. Thats not part of the review but I guess the books will stau with me longer than they took to read!
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