Book Review: The Doomsday Kids #1: Liam’s Promise by Karyn Langhorne Folan

The Doomsday Kids Liam's PromiseLiam’s Promise
The Doomsday Kids Book 1
Karyn Langhorne Folan
K Squared Books, March 2014
ISBN 978-0615966083Trade Paperback

From the author—

“Get to the Mountain Place!”

With those words, eight kids embark on a terrifying journey to survive a massive nuclear blast that destroys the world they once knew.

In the wreckage of their community, without food or transportation, their only hope of safety is to walk to a mountain cabin almost two hundred miles away. But the journeying under gray, radioactive skies brings the kids face to face with death and danger, deprivation and disease and worst of all: the realization that life will never be the same again.

Oh, my. I think I’m in book-love.

Choosing to read Liam’s Promise was a no-brainer for me because the post-apocalyptic genre draws me in like no other. I do enjoy many other genres but this one always intrigues me the most because it opens a window on what humanity really is at its core, how it behaves when conditions are at their worst. Knowing ahead of time that a nuclear disaster was in store, the opening line grabbed me right away:

She couldn’t have picked a worse time.

From that moment on, the rollercoaster ride begins and our narrator, Liam Harper, is literally off and running. I really think it was brilliant of the author to have Liam be the son of a prepper because that means he reacts right away when the threat comes and he has some idea of what to do. Most teens (any age group, really) would flounder around and waste much precious time but there surely would be a few here and there who’ve had some training. It was refreshing to see him react with such immediacy.

The kids who eventually wind up together are a motley crew who would be unlikely to hang out together in normal times. Ms. Folan has a true strength in character development and each of the eight came alive for me so much that I think I’d know Amy or Nate or any of the others if they walked past me on the street. A tip to the reader who wants a visual—go to the series webpage at doomsdaykids.com and you’ll find pictures of each of these children that fit the descriptions remarkably well.

Do I have a favorite? No, but I will say that not all are likeable from the start. Only one struck me as a little not quite right and that was Lilly. It’s no spoiler to tell that she has Down’s Syndrome and I know that such kids have a very wide range of abilities but Lilly seems just a bit too “normal”, for lack of a better word. In the long run, though, that’s neither here nor there as the core story and how the kids survive is so compelling.

I have to mention that this book could have used a bit more editing for construction errors—there are too many flaws, primarily missing words—but I believe my copy may not have had its last proofread. If that’s not the case, readers should still not let this get in the way of such a good story. I like that Liam and the others have a goal and that they are not all 100% into that goal but still recognize their strength in being together. I also like that they’re confronted by one crisis after another because, surely, that’s the way it would be should such a disaster really happen. The plot careens from one moment of suspense to another but the players also have quiet moments of introspection along the way.

Liam’s Promise was one of those books that engaged me totally from beginning to end and hit a lot of my hotbuttons for post-apocalyptic fiction with heartbreak and hope, emotions and intelligence, adventure and the building of trust. Ms. Folan is planning five more books in the series and I can hardly stand to wait for the second one, especially since Liam’s Promise ends with a heck of a cliffhanger. Nester’s Mistake is due out in September and I’ll be reading it for sure  🙂

Note: it’s not easy to find the author online so here are a few links for you—

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Series webpage
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Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2014.