Books: Directive 51 & Daybreak Zero by John Barnes
Directive 51, the first novel in the Daybreak series, is set in a semi-post-apocalyptic future (the year 2024) when a conspiracy begins called Daybreak that results in the crippling of high technology all over the world, sending survivors back to the equivalent of the 1800s.
Daybreak Zero is the 2nd book in the series and it continues the saga of the people left after Daybreak. The heroes, mostly people trying to create a new federal government, battle the “tribes” who are brainwashed by the Daybreak mind virus.
I have to be honest. I considered quitting this series while on the first book. It has so many details and dialogue about things that are not important to the story. It moves slow… we are forever living out Daybreak day, October 28, 2024. Kind of like a TV pilot, the first book sets the stage with important details of the story but is filled with characters we are not familiar with, and there are a lot of them.
Some of the characters were people who contributed to quite a bit of death and suffering; we are hearing their rationale. This is effective, and I have to admit that probably my favorite characters of the whole story fall into this category. I love a bad guy turned good. He or she is just misled, misinformed, brainwashed, and it’s always heart-warming to see them get turned around.
The “bad guys” are Gaia worshipers, essentially environmentalists gone bad. And there are thousands or millions of them. Their actions result in billions of purposeful deaths. Their goal is to essentially eradicate the human race in order to allow Gaia to rebound and continue on with nature in its original form, to erase man from the earth.
The idea of environmental terrorism seems somewhat popular lately. I really enjoyed The East, a 2013 movie about a woman who infiltrates a terrorist group on behalf of a corporation. In The East, the main characters were richly created, the writer gave them depth and we see that wonderful mixture of “good” and “bad” that audiences are fascinated with. In the Daybreak series, the author has made the environmentalists mindless zombies. That might work well for his story line about a mind virus but it’s kind of a cheap shot and frankly seems overtly political.
Environmentalists are generally very loving and caring people. In fact, they care too much, including about human lives, human suffering, animal lives, animal suffering… and yes, trees sometimes too.
So to make environmentalists the bad guys in this book the author is essentially demonizing them. This does not jive with any sense of reality as I understand it and with all the other rather realistic aspects of this story this doesn’t pass muster. More on this series in the next post…