After The Lights Go Out
by Lili Wilkinson
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Published by Allen & Unwin Australia
Publication Date: 25th of July, 2018
Australian RRP: $19.99
Seventeen-year-old Pru Palmer lives with her twin sisters, Grace and Blythe, and their father, Rick, on the outskirts of an isolated mining community. The Palmers are doomsday preppers. They have a bunker filled with non-perishable food and a year’s worth of water. One day while Rick is at the mine, the power goes out. At the Palmers’ house, and in the town. All communication is cut. No one knows why. It doesn’t take long for everything to unravel. In town, supplies run out and people get desperate. The sisters decide to keep their bunker a secret. The world is different; the rules are different. Survival is everything, and family comes first.
I’ve only read one book (The Boundless Sublime) from Lili Wilkinson previously but she also wrote an incredible short story in the #LoveOzYa Anthology (Oona Underground) and ever since I read that short story I’ve been obsessed with the way her words could bring so much emotion to me with chills that get your heart racing too with a tingle down your spine. Everything I’ve read so far from her has a spooky, unsettling feeling and I adore that about her work because her words have so much power behind them.
Her latest book, After The Lights Go Out, brings you into a small town with a family that hides an entire escape plan under their property. Pru’s father is a devoted doomsday prepper after their mother left him and they moved into the isolated mining community. He regularly tests the girls on all things they will need to learn how to do and use to survive in any outlandish situation that might confront them. This doesn’t impress Pru and her sisters since they just want to have a little more normalcy and a real mobile phone but still, they learn from their father and when disaster strikes they’re ready for the new world where survival is everything and you can’t trust anybody.
I knew I would love the writing in this book but I wasn’t prepared for how thoroughly interesting this topic could be. I’m usually not a fan of small town books but I loved this book and the focus was mainly on the characters emotions and struggles during a scary situation like that. If all the power went off and everything stopped in a big city you would walk outside and have people that surely knew what was going on but in a small town community with sparse resources and people it would be such a mystery and all the more terrifying. I would hate to be in their position myself so it was so indulgent to be able to go into this scenario through the safety of a great book. I think it’s good to go into this book as blind as you can too and just let it surprise you because it surely will!
(Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for sending a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. After The Lights Go Out is available now in store and online!)