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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Echo Island: Be Prepared by Gary Travis is a prepper fiction novel that follows the Prescott family after a destabilizing earthquake takes the life of the family matriarch, Dana Prescott. From the wreckage and with the help of Dillon Prescott's former military comrades, father Taylor Prescott is lifted from the collapsed California home—the loss of a limb less of a hardship when young Jack Prescott sells off a lucrative patent for a sum in the hundreds of millions. The Prescotts vow never to be unprepared again, pooling their material resources, training, and survival knowledge to build up an offshore colony. When the truth of the first earthquake arises at the same time that a catastrophic second worldwide disaster strikes, the Echo Island community is forced to contend not just with the environmental effects, but the societal upheaval that follows.
Gary Travis has written an engrossing tale of conspiracy, survival, and social psychology in Echo Island: Be Prepared. There is a lot of red meat out there for readers of the prepper genre, but I've found most to be a little chewy and overcooked. Travis allows for the seasoning of the story, layering its progress with strong characters that are well developed and pacing that builds with steady, evenhanded momentum before the searing scold of its climax hits. Having grown up in San Francisco in a military family and watched my city burn after the Loma Prieta earthquake, there was a personal connection that I felt to the underlying theme of being prepared. Of course, the little bug-out bags we created in the aftermath pale in comparison to the work of the Prescott family, but nevertheless Travis struck a chord in a book that gives a no-holds-barred look at the devolution of humanity in the face of catastrophe, and the innate desire that families are sure to have that is universal: to survive at all cost.