One Second After, by William R. Forstchen, is a novel about when America is hit by an Electromagnetic Pulse, or EMP, which knocks out all modern day electronics. So, there is no electricity, no running water, no phones, no radio, no cars, nothing that makes America a first world country. It is set in a small town in North Carolina, where the main character, John Matherson, lives with his two kids and two dogs. His youngest daughter, Jennifer, has Type One Diabetes, and his oldest daughter, Elizabeth, who is in the middle of her teenage years. The story takes us through the first year of John’s life after the EMP hits. John struggles with keeping Jennifer’s Diabetes under control, Elizabeth’s boyfriend, and making sure that his family has enough food, including his two dogs. However, amidst these hardships, John manages to become a leader in the town because his mother-in law’s car, an old Edsel, still runs due to it being made before there were computers in cars. He is also an esteemed professor at the local college where people look up to him. During that fatal first year, he deals with Jennifer and his father-in-law dying, Elizabeth having a baby, and needing to kill his two dogs. Help eventually arrives a year after the EMP strikes, and new leaders are placed in the community, taking the burden off of John’s shoulders.
One Second After encompasses many different audiences through its nerve racking story. It has reached high school students, including myself, adults, and even the attention of our government. One Second After was cited on the floor of Congress being a book that everyone should read, because it is an extremely realistic story about the dangers of an EMP. The Pentagon has even looked at it as being a very real threat that can send America back hundreds of years. I think One Second After can speak to everyone on some level because it deals with a topic that could potentially affect everybody’s life.
I feel that One Second After goes deeper than simply a nationwide catastrophe. It tells about the innate human desire to survive, yet upholding your moral compass, despite others not playing by the rules. I think that people can learn to what degree they are dependant on technology, after reading this novel. Similarly, I realized how much technology is in my life, and I have begun to wonder, could we survive without it? However, we do have the technology, and I think that it is our duty to use technology in a responsible manner. After all, if we become absolutely dependant on technology, and it goes away, what will happen to us?