By David Koepp
Author: David Koepp
- ISBN: 9780008364137
- Published: June 2022
- Pages: 289
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 13/06/2022
- Language: English
Reading about a dystopia is not as farfetched as it was once as we are living through a couple of ongoing ones as I write, but there is always space for a little more terror to add to the reality. What about a situation that is eerily possible? The sun belches out radiation daily and according to Davis Koepp’s Aurora we are due a large blast hitting Earth any day. This is the type of radiation that will burn out all our electricity. How long will the planet survive without on demand TV and games consoles? More importantly, how long will it last without water in the taps and food in the stores?
When the scientists learn of the upcoming disaster it is only a matter of hours that society must react. A massive solar storm is incoming and will knock out all the electricity on Earth for months, if not years. Billionaire Thom has planned for a day like this is going to retreat with his family to a hidden self-reliant bunker. His sister Aubrey is less prepared with only a few tins of gross beans to eat and a stepson for company that does not like her. However, even the best laid plans can collapse when a society does. Will Thom, Aubrey and a host of other characters survive the black out?
Aurora is a novel pregnant with possibility as its central premise has such far reaching consequences. Firstly, it feels worryingly possible. Koepp does a good job of convincing the reader this may happen, the poor characters in this book have moved straight from COVID into this next crisis. One option Koepp could have taken was epic set pieces akin to 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow, but this has never been the writer’s style. His screenplays, and more recently books, have always placed character at the forefront. All the action means nothing if you cannot care for the characters. Therefore, Aurora has plenty of flawed character to discover.
The main two are siblings Thom and Aubrey, whose lives have gone in vastly different directions. The story follows both their separate camps in the lead up to the solar flare and what comes after. Thom is well equipped, while Aubrey is not. However, this is not a book about preparedness, but community. The personalities of Thom and Aubrey comes to the fore and who they have chosen to surround themselves with. Community can play a vital role in your chances of survival.
There is great tension in Aurora, but this comes more from the characters than the natural disaster. It is the people around you that you must be wary of. There are some great character beats, especially between Aubrey and her stepson. Elsewhere the characters are not as well served. For such an epic concept, the book does feel more like a family thriller and drama as it progresses. As a movie or TV events, you would layer all the intimate moments onto an action-packed backdrop. This novel does not venture into what is happening much further than a few settings.
I enjoyed reading about the survival attempts of a choice few people within a potentially apocalyptic event and will let other novels and media explore all the tidal waves and lasers from space. This is a book about how something like a solar flare, or COVID, can bring local communities together, or rip them apart. The number of births and divorces this year attest to how things can go badly or well. Auroa may not have epic scenes of destruction but does have the tension of people's individual stories. One for readers who seek characters over action.
Written on 13th June 2022 by Sam Tyler .