Emerson, Vince and Carl
What do you think is the more interesting story, a story that takes place post-apocalyptic event or before? Personally, I think a book that takes place prior to the event is a more interesting story, as there is the suspense and tension of knowing that something life-changing, well actually world changing, is about to happen and there isn’t anything you personally can do about it. After all, don’t we have change management seminars and the like because people are resistant to change? Once an apocalyptic event happens, it happens, and you are busy dealing with survival in the aftermath. That doesn’t provide much time for self-reflection. As hard as that is to survive a disaster, I think it’s harder psychologically to deal with knowing the big change is coming, but wondering if you and the people will survive and what should you say to those people knowing what is coming. You can’t focus on everyday matters not knowing whether you will be brave or calm in the thick of it, so how much will you question yourself as a person? So how do you fill that waiting time, with what activities? Drugs, looting, sex, parties, family time, what? What would it be like to regret the chances you didn’t take in life knowing that now you won’t have those choices anymore, that there are no do-overs.
This is why I kind of liked the book All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder. Emerson and Vince are two homeless kids living rough who didn’t think things could get much worse. Then they learn along with the rest of the world that an asteroid is going to hit Earth in a couple of weeks. They observe the different reactions of people around them. Some people loot, some party, some find oblivion in drugs, and some people commit suicide. That’s what the pair decide to do. After all, they do everything together and have a very strong bond based on helping each other survive on the streets. The part of why they are living on the streets is what bugged me a little. There are hints that Vince experienced some things dark enough to explain why he became homeless, whereas Emerson’s reasons for being a runaway sound very petty and immature, there was nothing in her life that was so bad that going hungry and cold on the streets makes sense.
Anyway, the pair’s plan takes a major U-Turn when they find that the bridge they were planning to jump from has already been called dibs by Carl. Carl talks to the pair telling them that he has spent his last days trying to grant people their wishes and he will do one more for them before he goes. Vince’s wish leads the two into some encounters that impact strangers and family alike. It’s kind of a play on the ‘pay it forward’ phenomena, and while some of the encounters come off as a bit too contrived or coincidental, I appreciated that this was a different take on the pre-apocalypse type of story. It would be nice to think that instead of violence in the last days for mankind, our humanity will be displayed by the individual acts of kindness of which we are all capable.