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Old 08-26-2018, 05:30 AM
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Default Neighbors, by Jerry D Young: Audiobook review.



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I am a big audible fan and having been a member for over a decade have hundreds of audiobooks in my library and usually listen 4-6 hours everyday.

I very rarely pick up short stories as they are low value in dollars per hour as you can spend one credit, worth about $11 for a book of any length (the last one I got was 85 hours long) While most short stories that last just an hour or two go for about $5 with makes them proportionally much more expensive than the longer books.

However, seeing a recently released prepper book by JDY I decided what the heck, I'll spend the $4.86 and get it and consider the $0.10 or whatever share JDY gets a donation.

'Neighbors' starts out with our protagonist Hank well into serious prepping with fuel tanks, garden, generator, etc. All the usual stuff. The problem is he lives in a cul de sac and is very visible so all his neighbors see what he is doing. Justifiably worried that when SHTF they will all show up at his house he engages in a campaign to push all his neighbors into prepping as well to cover his activities, He starts out simply, phrasing things as a community watch and food bank and with almost not resistance they happily join in.

Things in the world deteriorate in a non specific generalized way. As gas and food prices get worse the neighborhood watch moves towards full on prepping and for the improbably low price of $100,000 build a massive community fallout shelter capable of sheltering a 100 people. Everyone pretty much goes along with this, each family chipping in several thousand dollars and in short order the shelter is built and filled with survival supplies.

Inevitably, nuclear war happens. For nonspecific reasons every country with nuclear weapons decides to use them against every other country with nuclear weapons. The book doesn't really go into this much, its more or less just a placeholder event to move the story forward.

The community gets into the shelter and fights off others who didn't buy in but show up anyway. After a few weeks when the radiation has died down they come out and get busy with gardening, defense etc.

As you would expect, eventually raiders show up. First a few that are easily handled, then later the community gets word of a large force on the way. The community again agrees to fight it out and prepares traps and fortifications to do so.

Hanks simple plan to cover his own prepping by organizing a community ends up with an entire fortified compound of capable fighters and his own preps not really needed, those he originally viewed as threat end up as assets due to his guidance.

So first off, this is a SHORT STORY. I don't know how many pages it would be but as an audio book the run time is just under two hours. Obviously you aren't going to have any character development or much descriptions in such a short story that is covering months of time so although the book lacks these things, it can't really be counted as a criticism, rather just a limitation of the format.

This is not really a character or events driven story, its more a best case scenario, "How to survive nuclear war" primer in the form of short fiction. Its simple, straight forward and easy to understand with a couple of exceptions I will get to later. There is nothing new, surprising or memorable there if you've read pretty much any other post apocalyptic or disaster fiction. There are no bad apples or traitors in the community, no mistakes are made, is as saccharin and predictable as a 1950's civil defense film reel.

This does not make it bad. It just makes it what it is, a short, palatable example of what a community could do to survive nuclear war. This is not really a book for preppers, its not going to bring out any new ideas or concepts to anyone who has already started prepping.

What is a good book for is people who have never really thought about prepping before. As a simple, non threatening, 'sanitized' version of nuclear war it would be easy for anyone to listen to and if it was their first exposure to the concepts, give them a lot to think about and a lot of prepping 101 type information with just enough story to keep it interesting through its short run time.

It would also be an excellent introduction to the subject for kids. The whole time I was listening I was imaging it as a 'magic schoolbus' episode (what can I say, I have a three year old who knows how to run netflix) In fact I think this would make an excellent illustrated book for kids from the right kinds of families. Its just dangerous enough to get the point of prepping across without doing so in any kind of threatening way.

As for the audio part of 'audiobook' this one is just acceptable. It was obviously produced with a low budget and B list reader. You can hear pages being turned, background noises and clipped words and over long pauses where edits where made. It gets the job done but has a noticeably amateurish production value. Not a big deal but it doesn't really add anything to the experience.

It may sound like I didn't like the story but that is not the case. In fact I found it a more pleasant couple of hours listening than "Going home" or "One Second After", both of which I have on audibook and both of which I found cringe worthy for most of their runtime due to ridiculous technical mistakes, poor writing, and unlikeable characters.

As for the pedantic, technical side of the review, for a book that is obviously intended as a basic primer in prepping, it uses acronyms like CNRB with no explanation provided. Any prepper would know what is meant, but the new reader for whom this book is best suited for, would have to go look it up. Weapon descriptions are similar, with no details given of what any weapon looks or acts like but just specific model numbers. If you don't know what a PTR 91 is then your just out of luck and have to either look it up or imagine what it could be.

Hyper specific, brand based gear descriptions are common in prepper novels but feel out of place in a story like this where everything else is greatly simplified. A sentence or two explaining the acronyms or describing what kind of weapon the model numbers refer to would be a better fit for the audience who is most likely to get something out of this book.
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Old 08-26-2018, 09:29 PM
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Thank you, Aerindel.

Your review has been extremely helpful to me, and I will take the constructive points to heart. None of my stories have been written for audio, and I now realize, thanks to you, that I need to consider that. Someone reading a story on Kindle or on-line, or on their computer can often look up acronyms and various named items. Not the case with an audio book. I have tried in my more recent works to explain acronyms, but early on, writing for a distinct prepper audience on forums like this, I simply did not think about it, because no one ever mentioned it.

I have not actually heard the book in audio form. Once I send a manuscript off to my publisher, that is about it for me. I do often approve cover art, but not always.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the review. It will improve my writing (I hope), and gives me a much better insight to what readers and listeners want. That is invaluable to me.

I would offer you something for the value you have given me, but that really is not something that is acceptable for my ethics. I do not take free stuff to include in stories, and I sure do not want to get the reputation of buying good reviews. But, if I could, ethically, I would reward you for what you have given me.

All I can do is say, "Thank you."

This is no opinion. This heartfelt gratitude for valuable help from a learned reader and listener.


Just FYI: Disaster In The 'Burbs will be out soon as an audio book. I really think you might like her reading. My publisher found a really good professional voice actor for this one. I had no idea how expensive and difficult it was to find good voice actors. That is part of the reason it has taken so long to get any audio books out.

This FYI is Just my opinion.

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Old 08-27-2018, 01:32 AM
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Just FYI: Disaster In The 'Burbs will be out soon as an audio book. I really think you might like her reading. My publisher found a really good professional voice actor for this one. I had no idea how expensive and difficult it was to find good voice actors. That is part of the reason it has taken so long to get any audio books out.
I'm looking forward to it.

As a kid and young adult I read constantly but as I got older I rarely have time to dedicate to reading but I have become a huge audibook fan as I can listen while working on most things or driving.

For instance, last night while listening your story I was outside digging post holes for my new shop the entire time. I often find prepper stories good inspiration while working on prepper activities....especially when its boring, unpleasant, solitary work, like digging. Even though it wasn't a recording of your voice, in an odd way, your imagination was keeping mine company while I worked last night out in the dark with my headlamp.
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Old 08-27-2018, 05:36 AM
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I can't work smart and listen to a distraction at the same time, my post holes would soon be going sideways. Keep cranking out the books Jerry, I still haven't found another author besides you and Pete who are worth a darn.
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Old 08-27-2018, 07:18 PM
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Audibooks help me focus. If I don't have one playing my mind starts making up its own stories that distract me far more than any book ever does. I need something to drown out the voices in my head
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Old 08-27-2018, 07:37 PM
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With me it is a movie playing in my head. Some things I cando and still watch that movie. Other times it is too distracting.

When I write, I am watching the movie play in my head, and capturing 70% - 80% of it on the keyboard. Many times I listen to oldies rock and roll while I am watching that movie in my head and writing, kind of giving it background music. Especially when I am writing some of the action scenes.

There is a vignette that will be in Dark Times - Part 3 that I wrote as the movie played in my head, while listening to Pipeline, by the Chantays. And boy oh boy, is it something else, if I do say so myself. A big, epic battle scene. That came to me several years ago, and I have just been waiting for the right story in which to use it. The Dark Times series is it.
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Old 08-30-2018, 06:42 PM
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Mr. Young, you always have a list to post. I've loved your prepper stories. Can you refer me to a sample organization document for a mutual assistance group?
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Old 09-01-2018, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by unno2002 View Post
Mr. Young, you always have a list to post. I've loved your prepper stories. Can you refer me to a sample organization document for a mutual assistance group?
I have various articles. I will put them together over the next few days and post the resulting article.

Thank you.
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