The Commune series has been a pretty good one so far. It has focused on a group of characters struggling to survive in the mountains of Wyoming after a Coronal Mass Ejection destroyed society as we know it. The series has been a gritty apocalyptic tale, and sometimes it's been quite brutal, but it has always been centered in realism. I appreciate the straight up story telling that doesn't rely on zombies or alien invasions to challenge the main characters. Speaking of those characters, I've been rooting for them to make it for 4 books now, so I eagerly picked up book 5 to see what was in store for them now. To my surprise, those characters are nowhere to be found. This book is centered in Washington, D.C. so it feels more like the start of a new series than a continuation of an old one. Does it hold up or is this just a money grab that takes advantage of the series name?
Clay's group of survivors is a dysfunctional bunch for sure, yet they keep everyone alive and they continually grow in number. Clay rules through intimidation and he is not afraid to kill his own people to make a point, yet he is reasonable when compared to some other members of his leadership group. The most unstable of that bunch, Ronny, is far worse than Clay and has been pushing for the group to move to Jackson for quite a while now. Ronny claims to have knowledge of farms and a stable food supply in Jackson, but of course his real motivation is his desire to get revenge against Sergeant Gibbs for the ass kicking he received in the gunfight back in book two. When Ronny finally manipulates things to convince Clay to move everyone north, they arrive in Jackson only to find that there is no food in the city. This sets up the final showdown between Clay's well armed group of scavengers and the members of the Jackson Commune, a much smaller group of people with barely enough food for themselves.
Commune Book 2 ended in a brutal gunfight and now it is time to find out the repercussions of that fight. Two new groups of survivors are now in the mix, one of them from that aforementioned gunfight, and both groups plan to do what it takes to ensure the survival of their people. On display are 3 completely unique approaches to re-establishing civilization and it is inevitable that these different philosophies clash with each other. Unfortunately for Jake and company, the Jackson Commune is the smallest of the three groups by a large margin and there is strength in numbers. When things get tight even friends can become foes and supplies are drying up everywhere.
Book 2 of the Commune series starts off with a warning up front about strong language and a new character that is the source of that language, Sergeant Gibbs. Gibbs is a former marine that brings a whole new element to this series with his personality and his skill set. The foul mouth marine finds himself shepherding around a rag tag collection of survivors and quickly discovering that his willingness to protect these people in the apocalypse is a heavy burden to shoulder. Things go from bad to worse for this new group of survivors until they meet up with Jake and this is when things get real difficult. Winter is approaching in Wyoming and there is not enough food to go around for a bunch of new people, so Jake and Amanda must decide if it it is worth sacrificing their humanity in order to survive...
Yet another entry in the crowded genre of apocalyptic story telling, this series starts off with humanity being hit by a double whammy. First "the flare" occurs which brightens the night sky and wipes out most electronics. This causes the most developed nations to focus on restoring communication and travel first, and just as these start to come back online humanity finds itself hammered by a deadly plague that wipes out most of the population. Those lucky enough to be immune to the disease find themselves in a broken world that is mostly uninhabited, and they must now find a way to survive. This story is about three of those people and what they must do to survive. Jake, Billy, and Amanda all feel like real people, and their stories are definitely worth hearing.