Early Review: The Rule of Three by Eric Walters

The Rule of Three

May Contain Spoilers


I love the premise for The Rule of Three – one day while Adam is at school, the power goes out.  Only it’s not just the power that’s no longer working.  Anything with a computer chip is effectively useless.  Newer cars, laptops, cell phones.   Totally inoperable.  As the days stretch out and the power grid isn’t restored, Adam sees first hand the desperation as people try to provide the most basic needs for their families.  Food and water are at a premium.  Everything that Adam has taken for granted crumbles around him.  If not for his crafty and resourceful neighbor, Adam, his family, and the their entire subdivision would be in deep, deep trouble.  With the power still out weeks later, Adam begins to wonder if this time without power will be the new normal for many years to come.


I have mixed feelings about The Rule of Three.  On one hand, the glimpse into Adam’s new reality is a nightmare for me.  No Kindle? No Samsung Galaxy S4?  No washer and dryer with all of those settings that I don’t use?  Ugh!  Those are just the little annoyances that I would face.  What about getting my asthma medications refilled?  Heartworm meds for the dogs?  As the days pass and the power isn’t restored for Adam and his family, I was curious to see how they would provide for themselves. 

The story relies on a few too many coincidences.  Adam’s father is a pilot, and he and Adam are building an ultralight in the garage.  Adam has taken flying lessons, and he’s very close to getting his pilot’s license.  The ultralight plane plays a big part in the story.  Adam’s mother is a police captain, so they have access to weapons, as well as the authority, to protect the community they live in.  Adam’s neighbor worked for the government, and everyone thinks he was a spy.  He has been through situations of social chaos before, and he has prepared himself for it happening here.  And let’s not forget that Adam’s love interest lives just outside of town, on a working farm, so her family knows how to grow food and tend to livestock.  Oh, and her father has old farm equipment that still works, because he doesn’t believe in replacing farm tools when he can just fix them.  So Adam has the keys to all of the tools of survival – security, ways to feed the community, and a veteran who has been there and done that, so Adam has it good from the get go.  Most of the challenges he faces, with the exception of the major disturbance at the end, are little road bumps.

The dialog was a little irksome at times.  It was awkward and cumbersome, and instead of letting the story just play out, it over-explained situations, so the reader is told what is going on, instead of being shown through the characters’ actions.  This drove me nuts because it pulled me out of the story on more than one occasion.  Adam, a teenager, is also given a lot of trust from the adults who have stepped up to leadership positions.  While I thought it was cool that a teen was allowed to take such an active part in the decisions and activities governing the community, I didn’t completely buy into it. 

Despite my quibbles, The Rule of Three is an intense read about something that could happen at any time.  Our society is so dependent on power and computers for everything we do.  Heck, my coffee maker probably wouldn’t have worked in Adam’s world.  I don’t know if this is a series or not, but with the abrupt ending and not knowing the fate of Adam’s father, I am guessing that there will be more of the story in the future.  I hope that’s the case, because I would love to see what happens next. 

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

In stores Jan 21, 2014

From Amazon:

One shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe. At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley’s high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam’s are the only vehicles that function. Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed. Soon—as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends—he will see his suburban neighborhood band together for protection. And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters.