The Last President by John Barnes

Book:  The Last President by John Barnes

This book is the third in the Daybreak series, which is about a semi-apocalyptic future after a terrorist mind virus destroys modern technology.

The Last President by John BarnesIt sounds fantastical, and I suppose it is in ways, but one of the best characteristics of this book is how the author makes all of it sound very real.  Using dates, times, and locations, he spins a book grounded in realism with some tech talk to back it up.

The problem though is that it is a little bit boring, tedious.  I didn’t care all that much about the heroes of the story and there were so many details that I felt like I really wanted the story to get good most of the time.

(I listened to the book, didn’t read it, so that might play a part in how “boring” it was.  When you are commuting to work you want to be really sucked in by the story so time just flies by, whereas when reading a book you can afford to take in a few more details, going at the pace you want to, simply reading faster at times.  It’s just different, and hard to explain.)

All those details about time, location etc actually enhance the realism of the story, but they also up the boring factor.

This series is pretty complex and Barnes does create a distinct world for the reader to stay grounded in, even if there are too many details which bog down the pace.

One more strenuous compliment to the story: strong female characters.  I would say almost half of the main characters are female (at least the good guys).

In the last post I explained that environmentalists are the bad guys, the ones who get taken over by the mind virus and endeavor to kill everyone on earth in order to let Mother Nature take back over. This was a theme to the extent that at the end of the first two books we equate environmentalism with terrorism.

There is more to it than this.  The mind virus spread easier to some people than others, those with a certain level of beliefs and opinions and principles, depending on how strongly they adhered to those beliefs.  You’ll have to listen to the book to really understand, although I don’t know if I could say right now that I really understand even at this point.  It’s as if it the mind virus has a mind of its own and this is where the “realism” is weakest.  (He explains where the mind virus comes from at the end of the book but I won’t spoil it.  It’s a weak explanation, like it was thrown in there to satisfy unanswered questions.)

The author attempts to explain why the environmentalists got this virus but doesn’t do a very good job of it.  In this third book a character points out, finally: “Daybreakers aren’t environmenalists.”  But the connection is too strong to be broken at this point.

I don’t really recommend this book unless you are starved for material.

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