Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Ripple of Fear by J. D. Northup Teaches Survival for Meeting Disaster - But Is it Enough?

“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water,
 the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” -Dalai Lama

My first experience with the potential "end of the world" was from the book by Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth in the 70s. The primary belief I had at that time was that I would be "taken up" before that happened at any time. Beliefs can be funny things, especially since over and over through ages, it has appeared to be near...the...end...

Since then I've read many fiction books about this period. mainly because many write about it and seek reviews of their books, as did J. M. Northup. I must say that it was totally different from anything I have thus far read. This first book in the series, I believe, sets the groundwork-- to be prepared.

A Ripple of Fear
The Fears of Dakota Series

By J. M. Northup

The ground shook and rumbled, sending a ripple trembling through me as an airplane thundered overhead. Growing up in an old neighborhood next to the Minneapolis– St.   Paul International Airport, I didn't need to see the craft to know it had been a Boeing 767. It was familiar enough for me to recognize it by the sound of its engines alone. During the calm between the uproar of aircraft, the promise of summer could be heard in the songs of birds. As I lay on my back in the soft grass, the sun felt warm upon my skin. Knowing how fickle Minnesota weather was, I relished the freedom the temperature afforded. After the long winter we'd had that year, it was a blessing to shed the multi– layer clothing in exchange for minimal attire. “I love spring,” I said with a sigh. What grew scarce at the decline of the harvest is once again plentiful at its dawning. Feeling content, I rolled off my back into a prone position...

“Oh, look at this, Mom,” Carolina replied, pointing out something in the garden. “What a pretty caterpillar.” As my mother and sister nattered on, their heads bowed together as they inspected the critter, I became lost in my own thoughts. We may not believe in superstitious nonsense, but the world sure does. Looking at the simple chain linked fence that marked the end of our yard and the start of the airfield property, I couldn't help 
thinking about security. Nothing feels safe anymore. The whole world seems focused on the potential destruction of life as we know it, especially since the Mayan Doomsday comes this year. Could we really be the last generation? Are we going to bear witness to the end of the world? As trepidation gripped me, flooding me with anxiety, I scolded myself silently. Ugh, I know better than to indulge in such absurdity. The Mayans believed time was cyclical, not linear, so the end of the long count calendar doesn't mean crap. It simply means the 
calendar begins again. Zombie apocalypses, alien invasions, and Hopi “blue star” prophesies make for great storytelling, but nothing more. Well, that is to say, unless a person wants to acknowledge the stress worrying over it causes.


Dakota was just 17 in 2012, but she was much older in her actions and intellect than most girls her age...As was her whole family... Dakota's parents, raising three girls, had been teaching them survival skills since they were very young, the goal being to be able to live off the land, and to protect themselves from danger. Most people called them weird... Well, we must acknowledge that they were different... How many of us would even begin to know what this family was living every day...successfully...

“Why?” I asked and even I heard
the whine in my voice.
“Carolina,” Mom prompted,
“can you please answer your
sister's question?”
Sighing deeply, she responded
by reciting the answer that had
been ingrained in us since birth.
“Because a woman should
always know how to provide for
herself and that means she
needs to know how to survive
off the land..."
The majority of the book is a first-person family drama presented by Dakota, the youngest. As most teens begin to question everything, Dakota spends a lot of time thinking internally about what is happening... For instance, Dakota, and Carolina, the middle sister, are being called by Georgia, the oldest, who has wholeheartedly accepted the training and lifestyle taught by her parents, are begging not to have to go to the latest training session... the planned trip is to go hunting and neither of the younger girls want to kill animals, even for food. They wouldn't mind learning and training on the guns for hunting, if they didn't have to actually perform the deed...

Both parents were loved and respected by the children; they were a very close family and very much enjoyed and needed that closeness. So when hunting had become an issue for two of his girls, Dakota's father had changed the training, more into a game, but still learning the same skills.

You have to wonder...could this family be for real? In today's world? New loves, friendship and heartbreak come into the family's lives, as each of the individuals address what is happening and how it affects the family... But, more and more, they are drawn into seeing what is happening... The Mayan prophecy might be just superstition, but there are many weather changes being noted and, as many of us feel, in 2017, there was an undercurrent, a growing fear. Something is going to happen.

The author has done much research to substantiate her book. Forcing readers to review what has been happening and what could happen, for instance, if a technological break would occur...or a terrorist action takes place--one actually taking place at the nearby Mall where three of the main characters were having lunch...

Little by little readers are affected by the constant reference of what has, could, or does occur...We are sucked into the possible danger, the realization of how susceptible we really are... And the major thing we realize is that...unlike Dakota's family, few of us are even minimally prepared to handle a disaster...of any kind...

So that, when it does, we are totally surprised, lost, and caught completely into what has occurred and, finally, perhaps, realizing, there may not be a way to escape... 

A very though-provoking novel which kept me reading until finished...and...wondering...what now... 

The writing is an interesting combination of literary prose and young adult daily life...of a deep belief in God but a turn toward nature for worship... a family committed to each other, but also concerned about the world around them and what is happening. There is extensive survival skill information, especially with botany, which is Dakota's interest and expertise. The meal preparation is strangely intriguing as this family does indeed survive from what is on the land, using many plants that many of us buy...but that they have either grown or found in the woods. 

One issue did bother me, given the family environment that was being established...there was much swearing used by all of the children and friends. Yet there was a reference that they were asked not to do so while they were at a child care facility...which implies that the author chose to include the swearing as acceptable at other times. This was a personal disappointment of what could have been a perfect family environment for me... My question is simply Why? Why are we allowing our children to use swear words in daily conversation? Given the story line, I felt that the use of swearing did not seem to fit the family environment being portrayed... I admit this is my personal... but strong... opinion. I hate to hear the language children and adults have accepted as being...acceptable... 

Other than that personal opinion, the book is quite remarkable and unique from other end-of-world fiction that I've so far encountered. It certainly sets readers up for what will be happening in future books and, with that, I highly recommend that you do start with this first book, although it appears from the ending that things are going to get much for exciting in the future!


J.M. Northup is an American author with the independent publisher, CREATIVIA.
She writes in several genres though most of her work crosses multiple genres.
Young Adult series: The Fears of Dakota and the Snoqualmie Valley Sasquatch series.
New Adult / psychological thriller: A PRISONER WITHIN.
Novella of poetry: SOUL SEARCHING, which also includes the erotic short story, EMERGENCE.
Middle Grade / Children's Book: FELINE FASCINATIONS: The Adventures of Boris and Olga.
Military Romance: The Wounded Warriors, which was written with her co-author Simone Beaudelaire!
Romance Anthology: FLAWED PERFECTION: A Collection of Winter Wishes.
J.M. Northup is continuing to develop and research future projects.
Julie is a native Minnesotan who proudly served in the United States Air Force. She's happily married to her best friend, Dusty and together, they have two beautiful daughters!

Find out more about J.M. Northup through her various websites:
CREATIVIA Author Page - http://www.creativia.org/ya-fiction-and-dystopian-thrillers-texas-author-jm-northup.html
Author FACEBOOK - https://www.facebook.com/authorjmnorthup
Good Reads Author Page - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7809260.J_M_Northup
Personal BLOG - http://jmnorthup.blogspot.com
Facebook Book Group - www.facebook.com/groups/952331691462763
Creativia Facebook Street Team - www.facebook.com/groups/creativiastreetteam

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