What would it be like to live a life completely isolated from society? What if the only people you knew or would likely ever know were just a couple dozen families who agreed to operate by community rules? What if you lived closed in and surrounded by invasive forest and thick thorny brush? What if you needed out but that wasn’t possible? What would that kind of desperation feel like?
In the year 2028, a small group of families moved to a former research lab on the edge of the Mohave Desert and started a new life at the place they called Arcpoint. Seeing the growing chaos and destruction in the world around them, they decide that isolating themselves is the best chance they have to maintain their Christian faith and protect their loved ones from impending doom. By pooling resources, they set out to convert the large facility into a combination of mini apartments and a large commons area for communal eating and living. With plans in place to maintain a self-sustaining community, the group is in a position to live long term away from the world’s influence. But even as their plan nears completion, the country is rocked by an electromagnetic bomb that incapacitates all computers, cars and most electronic equipment. At the same time a devastating earthquake creates a huge rift that separates the group from any close civilization. Without operable vehicles and computers, they find themselves completely cut off.
While the community begins to adapt to the changes immediately, over time they realize they have another problem. The research facility they had converted was used to modify Arcpoint trees to grow in dry arid conditions. But after the earthquake, the weather patterns changed and they experienced much higher rainfall. Suddenly the trees designed to survive in arid conditions thrive in moisture. Sending out rhizomes of thorny underbrush, the community finds itself spending excessive man hours trying to control the spread of the trees and brush. Eventually, they accept that it is in many ways a protection from the outside and the Arcpoint community adapts to a life surrounded by an impenetrable forest that can only be traveled by swinging on vines.
In the first installment of his novel, John Wozniak jumps forward 200 years to introduce Arcon Franklin and ask the question, “What would life after destruction look like?” After society fell apart, it eventually rebuilt itself, but the people of Arcpoint didn’t know that. Life continued on in the same self-sustaining way with the rules of the community to guide it. But when Arcon begins to question why they continue the same way, life becomes increasingly difficult for the young man who can no longer accept his isolated life as normal. Wondering what might possibly lay on the other side of the thorny forest and deep rift, he manages to use antique radio equipment to make intermittent contact with the outside. And so begins a journey to maybe someday meet, Elaina, the voice on the other end of the radio. Overcoming extreme obstacles, Arcon makes a journey. He makes it for himself but also on behalf of his community to discover what had happened after so many years.
After I set Arcpoint Traveler down, I wasn’t surprised that my teenage daughter picked it up to read it because it has a touch of science fiction and fantasy that lets the imagination loose from some of reality. However, I found that the story often raised questions that it didn’t try to answer and in some places lacked details that would make explain why certain things worked or didn’t. While the story is about Arcon’s journey, it does jump back in time often to establish detail. I tend to prefer a linear story so that was distracting for me. At the point where Arcon finally achieves his goal, the story quickly ends but as a reader I wanted to find out what happened. How much had the world changed? Was the world good or awful? What was his initial impression? None of those details are given so I felt like the story needed a little more even for a multi-part story. None the less, I really liked the book and the underlying questions it asked and feel like I could recommend it to people with a wide variety of interests.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by John Wozniak.