In a Perfect World – Week in Books #28/29b

I think the question of how society would respond in the event of a disaster is fascinating, so I enjoyed the premise of Laura Kasischke’s In a Perfect World.  In the book, “Phoenix Flu” sweeps the nation and everything falls apart.  The main character, a retired flight attendant who recently married a pilot with three children, must figure out what to do and at the same time cobble together a family from her two teenage stepdaughters and ten year old stepson. 

The author said in the notes at the end of the book that she prefers to write plot driven books rather than character driven, and that is certainly clear from the novel.  I prefer character development personally, but I don’t dislike stories.  In most cases, I think a good story becomes a BETTER story when the characters are well done, and I was not impressed by the character development in the book.  It was all right, but nothing special. 

One main issue bothered me throughout: the water stayed on.  When your power goes out, your water stays on, but if your power goes out for too long, the water plant can’t keep running either.  And if you’re on a well, chances are your water is pumped up into your pipes by electricity too.  So the fact that the family kept on being able to get clean potable water in the midst of utter meltdown bothered me.  It’s a quibble, but the reason I read the book was to think about what I would do if presented with a similar situation, I think the water issue was pertinent.

Although the book is nowhere near as grim as others in the doomsday genre such as The Road (actually I think The Road is more realistic of what would actually happen if society broke down), it does have affairs and profanity (the language is mostly from the teenage stepdaughters while they are hating on their new stepmother) so I wouldn’t recommend this book for younger readers.

Still, if you like doomsday scenario novels that are heavily plot driven, you might enjoy In a Perfect World.  If you’ve read the book, what did you think?

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