Eight Point Four Hardcover – Dec 12 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
A cataclysmic moment in American history is about to repeat itself in this white-knuckle disaster thriller. Signs point to a contemporary recurrence of the devastating earthquakes that, in 1811 and 1812, ripped through the New Madrid Fault Zone, 140 miles of American heartland along the Mississippi River. Marina owner Lauren Mitchell discovers huge cracks in the Kentucky Lake Dam. Seismologist John Atkins, haunted by the tragic loss of his lover during the 1985 Mexico quake, witnesses abnormal animal activity on a visit to the University of Memphis. When beautiful West Coast seismologist Elizabeth Halloran supplies evidence that upcoming sunspots will trigger the New Madrid Fault, Atkins is still a little skeptical?until the first quake hits at Richter 8.4. After that, amid the chaos that engulfs the ruins of Memphis, the race is on to prevent the next quake in the sequence?if there is a sequence?with a daring and dangerous plan. No tale about science's dash to save civilization from nature would be complete without a contingent of pigheaded and skeptical bureaucrats foiling the protagonists' heroics; in this case a sycophantic group of earthquake experts naysay the probability of another big shake-up. Hernon (Earthly Remains) heightens the scuffle with a believable turf conflict between state authorities and the federal government. The scenes of devastation are both horrifying and awe-inspiring, and although at times Atkins is surprisingly naive about the impending quakes' telltale signs (hibernating frogs evacuating their winter habitats, for example), the characters are, for the most part, believable. The end result is a combination of science and thrills that compares favorably with the best of Michael Crichton, but with a decidedly warmer touch. Hernon's saga, with its meticulous seismic details and galvanizing descriptive immediacy, brings a human angle to the technology of natural disaster. Agent, Richard Pine. 75,000 first printing; $75,000 ad/promo; miniseries rights to NBC; foreign rights sold in Germany, Holland and Japan; audio rights to Simon & Schuster.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA-When the New Madrid Fault Zone, which has produced three of the largest earthquakes on record in North America, begins to show signs of reawakening, geologist John Atkins and seismologist Elizabeth Holleran join forces with other experts to try to prevent another series of disasters. After two major earthquakes devastate the Midwest along the Mississippi riverbed, the team of specialists battles major fires, looting, aftershocks, and frenzied survivors in a breakneck race to prevent a third, even larger quake. Their answer is to detonate an atomic bomb in an old mine shaft, which will set off 5.0-6.0 quakes, but hopefully dissipate the stress building into a quake even larger than 8.4. In the frantic rush to vacate the mine tunnel, the team members battle not only mine fires, deadly gases, and falling shafts, but also one another. Afterward, what remains of the middle part of the United States begins the arduous task of cleaning up. The story is filled with facts about geology, tectonics, and physics, but the information never gets in the way of the action. The characters scurry through the endless challenges and serve more to join sequences of the novel together than to provide any meaningful relationship, although the two scientists fall in love during the melee. Offering lots of excitement and the inherent thrill typical of a survival story, the book will appeal to YAs who enjoy authors such as Michael Crichton and the team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
I've been somewhat interested in this topic for some time now since I live in an area that might be affected by such a quake. And as people in this area know, the New Madrid Quake may be even more devastating that the San Francisco and Alaskan quakes that created such widespread damage in the last 100 years. And, if you too live along this faultline, you may not want to read this book because if Hernon is right about "the big one" you might choose to find a new address.
Hernon has done a good job for the most part with his research and in some cases, the book reads like something out of Michael Crichton. Seriously limited though, is Hernon's character development and any "connection" that the reader might have with these characters. They're just not very interesting. I don't know if that flaw is by design or not, because the real star of the story, of course, is the quake or quakes.
The book has suspenseful moments and even includes a little sabotage and deceit along the way. It's a very quick read and good for passing the time. In reality, though, this book will probably have only limited appeal to those readers who don't live in this area.
For better books about the New Madrid faultline and the coming quake, I'd suggest "The Rift" by Walter Williams and "The New Madrid Run" by Michael Reisig (a superior, yet too short book, from an outstanding storyteller).
I'll let others who are more knowledgeable about the science (like my friends at the very earthquake research facility in Memphis the author refers to constantly) tear it apart, but I do know enough to realize when a basic description of the geology and geography of my hometown and it's surrounding area is totally incorrect. And how can people be standing on the shores of a lake that was formed by the very dam the author destroys a few chapters previous?
That said, if you are stuck in an airport or find yourself with too much time on your hands, and there's an abandoned copy of 8.4 on the seat next to you, you could do worse. The descriptions of the actual seismic events are rather disturbing (especially now that I am living in the doomed town of Memphis), and you'll take a new look at how your houses and offices are constructed. But next time Mr. Hernon, fire your editor, bone up a bit more on your science, and please buy a map of the area you're writing about.
Most recent customer reviews
If you know very much about earthquake science and the New Madrid Fault Zone you will be disappointed at the apparently sloppy research in this book. Read morePublished on May 23 2004 by Carol Collins
Hernon missed the mark on some geological and local facts (as pointed out by other reviewers here), but 8. Read morePublished on May 3 2004 by M. Alba
I just read 8.4, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I like earth science- earthquakes in particular - , and have always enjoyed learning more. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2003
Except for California, we usually think of the ground upon which we walk as pretty solid. Think again. Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2001 by George Webster, Ph.D.,
I thouroughly enjoyed the book. I happen to live in the area where most of the action takes place and found it very interesting to see what someone thought the results of a major... Read morePublished on Aug. 13 2001 by Shannon Erwin
A formulaic disaster story that takes too long to build up to the Big Event. The main characters were bland and boring, and I lost interest early on. Read morePublished on May 18 2001
although Hernon is a little too consumed with the technical aspect. Characters are cookie cutter types, plot a tad bit predictable. Good read for a slow day.Published on Feb. 11 2001 by Kip
This book is wonderful! Being a resident of Minnesota earthquakes have always intrigued me. I have never been anywhere an earthquake nor have ever felt one. Read morePublished on July 31 2000
The most interesting parts of this book had to do with the factual descriptions of the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Read morePublished on July 20 2000 by G. H. Cangahuala