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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
P.A. Baines's 8 Billion depicts the lead-up to a world with a population of one. Following an onslaught of violence, James, Lissa, and James' daughter Emma venture out of the city in search of safety and supplies. Along the way, they encounter chaos and other survivors like Barry, Ray, and Lotty. They form a convoy to navigate the eerie stillness of abandoned towns as they scavenge for necessities and adhere to a "six-second rule" to stay safe. The realization that they may be among the last survivors is made more terrifying as death ravages the group as well. James emerges as their leader and they follow signs toward what may be a haven in Dumbarton. In the face of ever-present danger, they try to press forward on a journey shrouded in uncertainty and the eerie echoes of crows following as they go.
Where most novels about an apocalypse focus on the survival of a group in its aftermath, 8 Billion by P.A. Baines is unique in how it operates in reverse. We know that out of everyone who survives the downfall of humankind, James will be the last man standing, and Baines creatively turns the table by filling us in on what happens in between. I loved it. Getting to know each character but knowing they would die heightened the entertainment value but also drew me into the story emotionally because I connected with them so deeply. The world that Baines crafts has the type of visual descriptiveness that comes only from the hand of a talented writer. How eight billion souls perished remains a mystery throughout and the tension created in the build-up to the end is well done. When it finally becomes clear what the cause is, it's too late for all but one, and satisfying for all of us reading it. Very highly recommended.