The year is 2054, and first words we read in Journal are written by Chester, who closes off a journal written by his wife of 33 years, Claire Huston.
The next entry is by Alan Trent, a 39-year-old former blackjack dealer from Reno, who finds the journal three years later in the Hustons' abandoned Mayfair, Washington, house.
It's through his writing that we learn why the world is what it has become – a wasted geography devoid of population, resources and livable ecology, ravaged by shortages, war, pandemic, EMP bursts, breakdowns and inhumanity.
Claire's writings are a catalyst for change in Alan, prompting him to help when he can, to be a better human, and to do what he can to at least make sure his little portion of the world is right. The benefactors of his newfound conscience are Anna Sanchez and her son, Gabriel, rescued from the clutches of bad people.
The entries in the days that follow chronicle an odyssey of survival in a beautiful, yet cruel land. Alan is forced to examine his own hidden fears, philosophies and morality – an introspection that enlightens him about what it means to be a citizen of this new, lawless world.
Throughout Journal, Claire's words are a guiding light, maxims to live by, and proof that if we believe them and maintain our humanity, then no matter the consequences, no matter the hardships we encounter ... all is not lost.
There are some editing and grammatical errors in Journal, but they can be excused and rationalized as Alan's journal-writing imperfections. In a way, it makes the story all the more endearing and believable. In fact, the fine phrasing of author Buckhout's writing seems rather out of character with entries in a journal written by someone in such dire straits.
It’s a good technique, using the journal-entry manner of narration, but slightly overdone in this case, I thought. Perhaps alternating with non-journal narrative would have added to the realism.
Craig M. Bucksout (ebook $0.99)