Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Big Dark

I just finished reading this to my son, Wyatt, age 8. We picked it out at his school book fair. We really enjoyed the book, which is set in a little town in New Hampshire after a geomagnetic event leaves everyone on earth without electrical power of any kind. For me, the most intriguing element of the book is the conflict between Reginald Kingman and Webster Bragg.

Bragg, who lives on a fortified compound, attempts to establish a new country ironically called Liberty, of which he is the supreme leader. Bragg attempts to found Liberty through intimidation (he and all of his many sons carry AR-15s), white supremacy (there are a few passages in which Bragg relates his feelings on white superiority), and the theory that only the strong should survive. He also has hoarded most of the town's supplies and has a large cache of gold coins.

Reginald Kingman is the school janitor and volunteer policeman who opposes Bragg's would-be rule. Kingman attempts to help everyone, including the elderly, and is criticized for not handling people like Bragg with direct action (we learn Kingman was the best pistol shot in the state, so the prospects for violent conflict are always lurking). He also lies to the townspeople about owning a working crystal powered radio.

The story follows Charlie Cobb, who is courageous and good, on a journey to do what's right. Through reading Charlie's story (which, maybe could have been more steeped in Kingman and Bragg's conflict) Wyatt and I discussed our current political landscape, the question of government's role in our lives, race, violence, and the nature of good and evil.