Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic

Review: A Stranger North by Henry J. Olsen

The Northland Chronicles: A Stranger North book cover
Image from Henry Olsen; used by permission

Title: A Stranger North (The Northland Chronicles #1)

Author: Henry J. Olsen

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Nine years ago, the Desolation decimated Earth’s human population. Now the survivors struggle on, living in small pockets of civilization scattered across the globe. In a small Minnesota community, life isn’t easy, but the people eke out a peaceful existence as hunters and farmers. This all changes when John Osborne – survivalist and sharpshooter who answers to no one – comes to town. His arrival ignites a chain of events that will change the North forever, as various factions vying for control of the still-rebuilding society hope to swing Osborne’s allegiance to their side.

I picked this up mostly because I haven’t read a good post-apocalyptic lately, and this one sounded pretty good. That, and the author said that even though this is an adult book, lots of YA-aged people liked it. So I decided, what the heck.

John Osborne, the stranger, was an interesting character. He was ex-military, and sometimes it seemed he didn’t know his own strength, but when he was throwing his weight around he knew exactly what he was doing. He was stubbornly independent and carried a lot of anger, which he was really good at hiding. I didn’t like him, per se, but I was fascinated by him.

I’d mention other characters, but besides Osborne, none of them really had enough page time to mention. There was Aristotle, the bookworm girl who shows up in the beginning and end, and Nathan and Emiko, siblings who are in and out of the story through the middle and end. Nathan and Emiko were both important to the story, and I think Aristotle will be more important in future books, but in A Stranger North, they weren’t around enough to get a feel for them.

This is what I’d call a very plot-driven novel. The story’s focus was more on whatever weird thing is going on with Osborne, and on a kidnapping plot that seems to be setting up a bad guy for future books. Characters, and even the post-apocalyptic world, are secondary to the plot, which is unfortunate, because I’d like to learn more about what happened.

A Stranger North wasn’t fantastic, but I did enjoy it. As for book two – it’s not at the top of my to-read list, but I’d be interested. This book left enough unanswered questions and threads I’m pretty sure will pop up again later.

I received a fee review copy of A Stranger North from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.

The Northland Chronicles:

  1. A Stranger North