Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Book Review: 'The Last Librarian' by Brandt Legg

One of the reasons author Brandt Legg has been so successful in his writing and publishing and selling his ten books to date is his magisterial management of his website. From his biographical data we learn that he is ‘a former child prodigy who turned a hobby into a multi-million dollar empire. At eight, Brandt's father died suddenly, plunging his family into poverty. Two years later, while suffering from crippling migraines, he started in business. National media dubbed him the "Teen Tycoon," but by the time he reached his twenties, the high-flying Legg became ensnarled in the financial whirlwind of the junk bond eighties, lost his entire fortune . . . and ended up serving time in federal prison for financial improprieties.’ Or as Brandt shares, ‘Twenty-five years ago, sitting in a hot, humid federal prison cell in Virginia, I first dreamed of being not just a writer, but a writer who could earn a living, support a family and keep writing. But I had dropped out of high school, having only completed tenth grade English. As I sat on that metal cot, penniless and heavily in debt, with almost a year left on my sentence, it seemed an impossible dream. Still, for more than two decades, while doing everything but writing, I somehow kept the dream alive. Amazon's KDP changed everything.’ One year later he began anew in retail and real estate. In the more than two decades since, his life adventures have led him through magazine publishing, a newspaper column, photography, FM radio, CD production and concert promotion.’ He is also a gifted landscape photographer.

Another of the reasons Brandt’s sci-fi thrillers/suspense novels work so well is his ability to subtly let us in on the main character’s character from the first few paragraphs – After all the remarkable changes which had occurred during the decades since the Banoff, it seemed strange that 2098 would long be remembered as “the year of change.” For on a cold January morning of that year . . . the revolution began. No one knew it then because it started, as revolutions often do, as something quiet and almost routine. There was no way Runit Happerman, a bookish, cautious, single dad two weeks past his forty-third birthday, could have had the faintest idea he would be at the center of the storm. As he commuted to work on that frosty morning, through the gleaming city of Portland in what they now called the Oregon Area, his thoughts were on the book he’d always wanted to write, about the days before that terrible five-year period when everyone died. “The Banoff,” as it had come to be known in the new-language, brought the human race as close to extinction as it had ever come. The Banoff plague had struck with the suddenness and fury of a fatal car crash. Hundreds of millions died in the first months, the only bright spot ‒ if you could call it that ‒ was that the virus went from incubation to death in less than a week. As the relentless and efficient killer swept the globe, universal terror, grief, and mayhem followed. It became impossible to keep up with burning the bodies and dealing with contamination, and in the end, billions were lost. Chaos ensued, and war broke out.'

As book 1 of his Juster Journal series Brandt’s synopsis pulls the story together well: "Never let them catch you reading!" In the year 2098, there is no more war, no more hunger and no more pollution. The world is secure and Earth’s 2.9 billion people are healthy and happy. There is also only one remaining library that still houses physical books. In addition to the dusty volumes, the library holds many secrets. But the government has decided to shut it down and burn the contents. Unless an unlikely trio can save the books, humanity will lose more than just what is printed on those antique pages. With a single government ruling the entire planet, one currency, one language and no religion, the population is unified and enjoying the prosperity that comes with more than seven decades of peace. Free healthcare for all and guaranteed employment make the future a dream. But this future may only be safe if they can hide the past. The books must be saved . . . the impossible task is up to an angry author, a brazen revolutionary and the last librarian. When everything is perfect, the only thing left to fear is the truth.

Read one of Brandt’s novels and it is likely you’ll reach for the next in sequence. Fine writing in a genre that often leaves us wanting more. Brandt supplies it. Grady Harp, January 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.