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The Unit by Terry DeHart
Review by Mel Jacob
Orbit Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316077408
Date: 14 July 2010 List Price $13.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The Unit, a family of father, mother, daughter, and son, struggle to find safety in a world gone mad in Terry DeHart's debut novel. Major cities lost, anarchy, and roving gangs create a post apocalyptic environment. Avoiding death and finding a place of safety propel the family on a journey without a certain destination. Finding food and ammunition for their few guns takes courage and cunning.

Jerry, the father, is a former marine; his training gave him well-honed survival skills. Susan his wife trusts him to lead them. Melanie their daughter wants to escape the family, but has no safe alternative. Scott, the son, grows into his role and even relishes killing their enemies.

When the disaster happened, all cars immediately ceased operation. The bombs used interfered with electrical and electronic systems. Forced to flee on foot, the family heads east to the California mountains. Killing gangs seeking to loot, rape, and kill dog travelers. All Jerry's skills are needed to keep his family safe.

The family finds a small town market with some supplies not taken. As they rest and eat, a gang of escaped juvenile offenders attacks. On the second such attack, they severely wound Scott when they use dynamite to blast the family out. The toughs kidnap Melanie.

DeHart keeps the tension up for both parts of the family. Scott and Susan are determined to find Jerry and Melanie while the latter struggle to evade the gang. Food and warmth remain problems. The Unit is not as extreme as Mad Max, but at times, some events strain credibility. However, the action keeps the reader turning pages. The novel has plenty of gore and nasty people, but Dehart tries to make a few villains multidimensional. A sequel featuring Scott is in the works.

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