I was super excited to receive a copy of After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson, as it looked like a YA read that was a little bit different to the other YA books on offer lately. Also, it’s based in Australia, and I always love reading a book set in my homeland ♥
Seventeen-year-old Pru Palmer lives with her twin sisters, Grace and Blythe, and their father, Rick, on the outskirts of an isolated mining community. The Palmers are doomsday preppers. They have a bunker filled with non-perishable food and a year’s worth of water. Each of the girls has a ‘bug out bag’, packed with water purification tablets, protein bars, paracord bracelets and EpiPens for Pru’s anaphylaxis.
One day while Rick is at the mine, the power goes out. At the Palmers’ house, and in the town. No one knows why. All communication is cut. It doesn’t take long for everything to unravel. In town, supplies run out and people get desperate. The sisters decide to keep their bunker a secret. The world is different; the rules are different. Survival is everything, and family comes first.
So yep, this story is about a prepper family and the kind of twisted way their Dad’s paranoia about impending Doomsday-like events affects his 3 daughters. Like I said, it’s something a little different 😉
I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. The characters were sweet, and complicated, and genuinely 3-dimensional which I really respect in a genre where it can be easy to fall into using trope-y cliched character types. When disaster hits, Pru constantly seems to question her Dad’s mantra of ‘Family comes first’ after seeing how the town bands together. Torn between two mindsets, we get to see Pru’s internal battle of what to do – and it lets you wonder what you’d do in the same circumstances – when you’ve been brought up to so firmly believe people would act a certain way when disaster hit, only to have your community’s actions completely fly in the face of it.
Similarly, the twins (Grace and Blythe) have their quirks and twists of personality that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from the first few chapters. Even Mateo seems to grow and change through the book. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, Wilkinson’s characterisation and the way she lets her characters adapt and change was really refreshing to read.
The story itself is also engaging, with a plot that keeps you turning those pages (I think I finished this book in like, 2-3 days, which I haven’t done for a while!). It’s not only what happens that keeps you wanting more, but also the way it happens and how well written the whole novel is, I just wanted to devour it all.
But don’t let me sway you – I highly recommend you give it a read yourself!
Rating: Contemporary YA fans will almost definitely love this book, and those who enjoy contemporary fiction generally I’d say would also enjoy this read as a lighter, faster read. I recommend trying it!
I’d love to know your thoughts if you have read this book! Or, let me know if it sounds interesting to you and you might give it a read 😊
Until next time,
Thank you to Allen and Unwin for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
*valid at time of posting