cover image After America

After America

John Birmingham, Del Rey, $26 (480p) ISBN 9780345502919

In this sequel to Without Warning, Birmingham delivers a stirring account of the events after "the Disappearance," tracking a group of survivors in New York, Seattle, Texas, Kansas City, Berlin, Salisbury, and London. Shortly before the Iraq War, a wave of unknown energy passes over most of North America, scouring humanity and triggering chaos. Now the wave is gone, and the survivors face the challenges of rebuilding their empty continents. In the Texas Administrative Division, an ex-general wages a war of ethnic cleansing against the new immigrants coming in search of opportunity; in New York, hoards of scavengers pick through the ruins of the city. Meanwhile, over a billion Muslims are left homeless after Israeli nukes make the Middle East uninhabitable, and they need somewhere to live. As American forces attempt to retake the East Coast, an inexperienced president finds his leadership tested. Though his dialogue often feels functional or formulaic, Birmingham's inspired speculation is ingenious and engrossing. Along with colorful if not entirely sympathetic characters and a wicked sense of the absurd, this should make excellent pool-side reading. (Aug.)