The Borrowed World from Franklin Horton depicts a post apocalyptic scenario, where the USA is dealt a crippling blow by ISIS terrorists. Jim Powell and his co-workers were en route, on a business trip, and now find themselves stranded hundreds of miles from home. Their mission: to get back to their loved ones as soon as possible. That is the core of the book, the terrorist attack merely provides the necessary circumstances and is not dealt with in great detail, nor very original for that matter.
The disastrous change from fully functioning society (well, sort of) to rampant chaos is abrupt and condensed but understandable considering the focus of the book. The narrative alternates between Jim and his wife Ellen and their kids, who have their own problems to deal with. I would say, at least in this first book (yes, The Borrowed World is the first in a series), the trek Jim and his colleagues have to make gets center stage. Jim is a guy who takes his prepping seriously.
Paranoid, some of his co-workers are convinced at first. Jim prefers to call himself “prepared”. And of course the events that unfold will prove just that. Most of the time Jim is not very likable (and this may be a problem for some readers/listeners), a bit of a blunt hard-ass, with little apparent concern for those who do not share his world view. That said, if you found yourself in a survival situation you probably, no definitely want to be in Jim’s group.
After flipping the switch, from organised world to anarchic chaos, the story needs some time to gather momentum. Once gained it picks up pace significantly and escalates into scenes of ever increasing violence and horror. Amidst all this the group takes rational decisions (mostly) and deals with dangers in a coherent, logical and believable way. Jim works for a government agency and he and his colleagues seem to be fully aware of the governments helplessness in times of real crisis.
There is some social commentary to be found in The Borrowed World (gun control and other issues) but since I am not from the US, I know too little about these debates to fully appreciate the hints.
Apart from Jim, the characters are somewhat 2-dimensional and lack details. In this first book it helps to keep a tight focus and get things rolling, but it is a valid criticism. Perhaps this issue is addressed in the following parts of the series. Other than that The Borrowed World sometimes spends a good amount of time describing the gear: weapons, ammunition, gadgets, food, boots and so on. A preppers delight and from the perspective of Jim, understandable. You must be enjoying this whole situation, one of his colleagues mentions. Jim denies this, but i am not so sure.
Finally, I found the narration by Kevin Pierce to be good, dry as it should be. In dialogues Pierce does not really do voices as such, but subtly changes the diction a bit. On Amazon you can always listen to a sample to see if you like it.
Conclusion: A very entertaining ride, if you like post-apocalyptic tales. I am very much looking forward to listening to volume 2, Ashes of The Unspeakable.
Listening time: 7 hours, 54 minutes.