Above the Fire

Above the Fire
Genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction
Tags: Audiobooks, Dystopia
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publication Year: 2023
ISBN: 9798200987757

Widower Doug and his young son, Tim, are on a backpacking trip in New Hampshire, enjoying new friends, each other's company, and the outdoors. As they near the end of their trip, communications go down and they spot fires below. Rumors of social collapse reach them, though details are vague. Doug decides to go further into the wilderness, where he and Tim settle into a backcountry cabin for a winter on their own, hoping to wait out the turmoil.

I love survival stories, and when you add in some apocalyptic elements, I'm all in. (Though I admit the appeal of those in recent years has waned a bit--it's the ever-closer creeping to reality that's doing it.) This was a quiet version, with the strengthening bond between father and son nicely juxtaposed with the societal unraveling. The outdoor survival aspect makes the publisher's comparison to Peter Heller's The Dog Stars apt, and the unsettling unknown of the collapse is reminiscent of Rumaan Alam's Leave the World Behind.

About the Book

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Publisher’s Description

O’Donnell’s debut, Above the Fire, is a novel which finds hope and resilience in the timelessness of nature and the connection between parent and child. Perfect for fans of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Laboring under a shared loss, a father and son set out on a late-season backpacking trip through the mountains of New Hampshire. They find beauty and solidarity in the outdoors, making friends along the way and falling into the rhythms of an expedition. But when war breaks out during their hike, they are forced to withdraw even further into the backcountry.

Surviving an alpine winter by themselves, father and son must endure the elements, the solitude, and the ever-present danger of outsiders. As their isolation intensifies, their bond with each other grows more fierce. From their mountain refuge they must confront the perils of a changed world until they are forced to decide whether–and how–to rejoin society.

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