To Reread or Not to Reread? Books so Good You Go Back for More!

What happens when the perfect thriller comes into your life at just the right time, a second time? You loved the storyline and characters, and the journey was so dynamite you don’t want it to end. So you do what any self-respecting bookaholic would do and read it again.

I’m generally not someone who rereads books. I love that first blush of suspense. The sense of anticipation. The element of not knowing what’s going to happen next. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. I have a couple of books on my keeper shelf that are so damn good I want to experience them a second time. I want to relive the adventure and spend some more time with the characters with whom I fell in love. After all, we all know that while in the throes of reading a great book, there are certain details you missed in the flurry of turning pages the first time around, right?

One book I’ve read twice—and would consider reading a third time—is William Forstchen’s tour de force, One Second After. The book is an apocalyptic thriller that plunges the reader into the aftermath of an electromagnetic pulse or EMP event, which causes the US power grid to fail and instantly renders all electronics useless, including most cars, cell phones, the internet, refrigerators, etc. The setting is small-town North Carolina—which could be Anytown, USA—another element that appealed to me.

The story introduces us to protagonist John Matheson, a history professor at a local college, his two young daughters, and his mother in law. Initially, John and his family are simply trying to figure out what’s happened. All the traffic has stopped on the highway a few miles from their home—the cars stalled, the motorists uneasy and confused. Cell phones and internet are down. John and his family’s own vehicles won’t start. The scene is ominous. What the hell is going on?

At first, John is confident everything will start working again soon. Surely someone is working on getting things up and running again. Right? Left without a mode of communication, John and his family have no way of knowing what’s happened or why. But our protagonist is a savvy guy and soon begins to figure things out—and he realizes the reality of the situation is far more terrifying than he ever imagined.

Within days, millions of people are left without food, water, transportation, medical treatment, and life-saving medications. They are terrified and desperate—who wouldn’t be? One of the things I loved most about this book is that John Matheson is an everyday Average Joe who is plunged into an extraordinary and life-threatening crisis. I literally couldn’t stop turning the pages because I had to know what was going to happen next. How would this man handle the next calamity; how was he going to survive—and how far was he willing to go to protect his family? Not only did he have to fight the threat of starvation and an array of monumental hardships, but he also had to deal with the terrifying bands of violent gangs, strangers willing to steal or betray or even murder to survive.

One Second After is an extremely entertaining and compelling read, and I devoured every page. The premise has been done before, but Mr. Forstchen writes with such credibility that it seemed fresh and I had absolutely no problem suspending my disbelief. If you’re in the mood for a thriller that will take you on a high-octane thrill ride, this one comes highly recommended. The novel is reread worthy and then some. If you love it as much as I did, you’re in luck: there are now two more books in the series, One Year After and The Final Day.

Be forewarned: after you read the novel, you may feel the need to stock up on a few canned goods (just a few), keep a little extra fuel around the house (a gas can or two), and maybe buy that generator at which you’ve been looking. Just saying.

Kate Burkholder Series Reread Navigation
Review: Linda Castillo’s Kate Burkholder Short Stories Review: A Gathering of Secrets


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