Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review: Half Past Midnight by Jeff Brackett


Leeland Dawcett was prepared for the end of the world, and it came on a Saturday. At the first threat of nuclear strikes, he and his wife take their children away from Houston to a smaller town that's less likely to be targeted. A survivalist, Lee and his family survive the fallout, only to get wrapped up with the small town. In rebuilding, Lee discovers that people don't have to be hoarders to survive. They're worth trusting.

And then there's Larry, a man who is determined to seize his chance to rule in the chaos. Lee shouldn't have let him live, and now it's coming back to bite not only him, but his family, and his whole town.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from  the author's website  

Half Past Midnight is the story of Leeland Dawcett and his family in the first days and years after the Doomsday War. It’s the story of how one man learns that survival sometimes just isn’t enough. It’s a story of friends who help each other through thick and thin, and the enemies who make life after Doomsday a living hell.


Half Past Midnight reads like a memoir or journal, with the entries detailing the date and time they occur. It's pretty clear that he's got the definite plan to what's going on overall with his books, and this, to me, seems to be the foundation of what's going on. It's happening now. Brackett takes our world at this moment, detonates a few nuclear bombs, and never looks back. Even after the fallout, it's still our world, but the changes wrought transform this world just enough to make it unfamiliar. So it's still home, but it sure isn't really home anymore. His characters deal with it wonderfully, which in a way gives hope to readers.

Then again, there were nukes, so he sort of ripped that hope away from us on page 1. Still, it's well done!


Brackett writes cleanly, and I have to admire his characterization in Half Past Midnight. Leeland is a deep character. I could say that he acts predictably, but that isn't true. It's a matter of the reader/character bond. By the end of the book, I was so thoroughly in his head that even if I couldn't guess what he'd do, once his actions became clear, I couldn't imagine him doing anything else. And all his characters were that way. Interacting with Larry was both thrilling and infuriating. Brackett's understanding of his population is wonderful and told in an easy-to-absorb fashion, making this a book that's easy to enjoy.

My Thoughts

I was a little thrown off at the beginning of Half Past Midnight, mostly because I had no real foundation of who Leeland was, when or where I was, before the nukes went off. Still, I found I didn't mind. Brackett so grabbed me with the threat of nuclear war that I was more concerned about general survival than who I was dealing with. By the time things settled, that imbalance had been righted by Leeland's plans and abilities, and I found myself safe with him and his family.

It actually startled me a little that the bulk of this book was just about surviving in general. For much of the book, the environment and the situation was the main antagonist, and sometimes, that sort of foe makes me dislike a book. While I did feel a little afloat, I did find myself engrossed in how Lee and the people of Rejas rebuilt their lives.

Of course, that was when the proverbial dung hit the fan and the fairly minor skirmish at the beginning of the book turned full circle to ramp up the action, tension, and body count. Brackett does an amazing job gathering little threads of plot, details that seem trivial, to bring them into the end. It was extremely satisfying, to say the least.

Would I Recommend This Book? Oh, yeah! Half Past Midnight is intriguing, especially to people like me who are so going down if there's a nuclear apocalypse. Seeing how people will not only survive but flourish after such a calamity is exciting, and I have to again say that Brackett's characters are just plan real. I give Half Past Midnight a survivalist 4 of 5 stars.

For more information on the author, visit

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