Full Disclosure: The NUGUN Blog received a free reviewer’s copy of 299 Days “The Preperation” for review. That said, we strive to provide our readers honest reviews.
Please note, that this is the first in a series. (I will address this later in the review.)
299 Days follows the life and thoughts of one Grant Matson, a lawyer and a libertarian. We’re given some personal background of his childhood, how it shaped and made Grant the man he becomes. We are introduced to his family, a cadre of friends, and several life experiences from political activism to politics back to political activism.
The true crux of this story revolves around two elements: First, Grant, is one of those who realizes something is wrong with the direction in which America is headed. Second, he decides to start preparing. We follow Grant along as he discovers others who think like him, and we get to observe his interactions with both the like minded, and those who are not like minded (such as his wife).
299 Days, provides a very good insightful introduction to the world of prepping, and the first book at least, might be thought of as a story, written around a “how to get started” guide”. It provides a good list of considerations to think about from food, how to accumulate food, to firearms, to privacy….but perhaps most of all, the greatest prep you can have “connections”.
Grant goes through the first book, and while he may be prepping, the truly greatest asset that he is acquiring is relationships. And we see how those relationships become mutually beneficial. I think this is a key aspect of “prepping” that is sorely neglected. I’ve met the lone wolf “I’m going to hunt deer” (what about when all the deer are gone)….”well I’ll hunt cattle” (and you don’t think those farmers will have several hands with guns to protect those cattle in exchange for a share of beef?). To me, such survivalism is pointless. Humans are a communal species, and it is what enables our success. Similar to the ant. One could argue which has most successfully conquered the world, humans or the ant – but either way, the winner was a community building species.
“How to get started and inspired to prep – both the how any why”, would be a good summary of 299 Days. With that in mind, I am reminded of a novel I read when I was younger, “Pulling Through”, it was a novel about surviving a nuclear holocaust. But interestingly enough, only 2/3 of the book was story, the rest was a manual on how to build an air filtration system using toilet paper or a homemade geiger counter. And while 299 Days isn’t quite to that level (there is no manual/survival guide at the back of the book, but it might be a great idea for a companion book); it has that similar feel, that you’re supposed to learn from it.
That said, in all honesty to my readers, I do have a few criticisms. Namely two… First, there are times that the writing is a bit simple, and I mean that as in you can tell the author is a newer writer. This is no literary masterpiece and it won’t be walking away with any Hugo’s or laureate awards. I think Glen Tate knows and understands this, and I can accept that, especially in a genre that does not have much authorship catering to it. And this is how authors grow.
It is a big venture to write a novel, I know…I’ve made a few attempts here and there. And Glen Tate is giving some very useful information. And it’s worth a read. Just don’t expect a Heinlein or even an Eric Flint (1632).
My second criticism is toward the author falling prey to a few stereotypes. There are times that the story comes off a bit too preachy against liberals, and non-preppers. And while, I may agree with much of that which is stated about typical thinking. It can lead to a loss of potential audience.
S.M Stirling’s made a similar mistake in his novel “Island in the Sea of Time” in which the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is sent back in time with Nantucket. There he had all the Christians gather and try to burn everything down, because well they were now before Christ and therefore there was no salvation. My response to Stirling was “Huh, what? That’s not how us christians would think!” Seriously, I think most Christians would of been – hey, maybe this is how God planned to evangelized those who came before.
Why this matters? I desire to share the information that 299 Days is teaching. I want a book that I can use as an evangelization tool to my friends. And I do not think any of my very liberal/leftist friends could muster through a few parts of 299 Days due to some of the political elements.
I have a lot of left/liberal libertarian friends who are into prepping. And who are into gardening. And who can run rings around me on what uses various herbals and weeds have. I think the character Grant needs to meet just such a person, because our leftist hippie prepper friends are also important to our “prepping community”. That’s not to say I can’t share 299 Days with many friends, just that I think Glen missed an opportunity to reach an even greater audience.
The last criticism is not mine, nor is it one I hold, but one I’ve seen elsewhere and want to address it. 299 Days is a series. In fact it is more of a “serial” of novellas. When I first heard 299 Days mentioned/advertised on Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast, this was made abundantly clear. My understanding is that the series is complete, but will be released sequentially. They are not very large novels, and perhaps a 4-5 volume approach might have worked better. But as I understood this, I was not bothered by it. Perhaps it would have been good to boldly label Book 1 of 10. Heck, sure would of been nice if Robert Jordan (RIP) had done that for his Wheel of Time series. I feel that as long as you are aware of this fact than it is a non-issue. You are all now aware. 😉
To Glen Tate, thank you for providing something for the prepper community. I think this is a good offering, can’t quite say great. And that’s just being honest. But I do think these sort of books are needed. Enjoyable. I look forward to seeing you grow as an author over the years.
Presently, 6 of the novels have been published and all are available via Amazon in both print and kindle versions.