cover image The Rule of Three

The Rule of Three

Eric Walters. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-374-35502-9

In this understated post-apocalyptic novel, an unknown event renders all computers inoperable, leading to the shutdown of most technology and the collapse of civilization. Fortunately for 16-year-old Adam, he drives a ’79 Omega, one of the few cars still operable in his suburban neighborhood. As days pass and panic sets in, Adam’s police captain mother takes control, aided by their neighbor Herb, a retired government agent (“Black ops? In my business there was very little that was black or white. Most everything involved shades of gray and shades of right”). They form a neighborhood watch and eventually build a walled community to keep out the sometimes-violent people who pass through. Then heavily armed ex-military types wipe out a nearby community, and Adam’s neighborhood is next on their list. Walters (the Seven series) realistically depicts how a typical neighborhood might react to the collapse of society. Adam is a relatable protagonist, but the other characters, including the ultra-competent Herb, are somewhat thin. Nevertheless, it’s a solid read that sidesteps most of the SF influence so prevalent in current dystopian fiction. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)