Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles
The most common complaints about Rawles are the constant evangelizing, unnatural dialogue and unrealistic characters. I think he must’ve cracked into the suggestion box before writing this because all of these were toned down a bit – all of the characters seemed reasonable, the dialogue was ok and the evangelizing was way down from previous novels. I felt he got a little over-technical a few times with firearms, but that’s typical Rawles again.
The storylines were actually pretty good. In the midst of the same world-wide economic collapse as his previous three novels, Indonesia rises under radical Islam and becomes aggressive in the South Pacific. They annex Malaysia (also mostly Muslim) peacefully and go after the Philippines, New Guinea and eventually Australia. The two main stories in the book center around American missionaries in the Philippines escaping the invaders by taking off for Australia in a boat. The other story involves a young American male geologist who gets a job in Australia and is stuck there when Indonesia tries to put her claws into Oz. Both stories actually did send the hair up on the back of my neck up at times (especially the invasion of Australia), which is something that Rawles’ novels have never really done.
I also have to hand it to him that he did an impressive job showing his wide range of knowledge of the geographic area, culture and languages of that region. Also of nautical, military and geological things. Whatever you want to say about the guy, he always knows his material.
It’s worth checking out if you liked anything about his previous novels and it’s easy reading. I think I finished it in about 24 hours, thanks to a lot of down time at my job. Strangely enough I finished the final page at work at the exact moment where I had to start working again. The work of divinity, perhaps? Ha.