Breakers by Edward W. Robertson (2012) Review

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Breaking Away

Breakers (2012) : 10 out of 10: In the novel “Breakers” by Edward W. Robertson, the lives of characters from coast to coast are upended by unforeseen tragedies.

In New York City, Walt Lawson is grappling with the impending loss of his girlfriend, Vanessa, when an even more devastating blow strikes. She succumbs to a deadly flu that swiftly claims the lives of billions worldwide. The bustling streets of New York are transformed into haunting, silent tombs. Across the country, in Los Angeles, Raymond and Mia James are faced with the impending loss of their home. But this concern becomes trivial as the city descends into lawlessness, with rampant violence and fires in the wake of the pandemic.

As the world crumbles, Raymond and Mia seek refuge in an abandoned mansion. In this new reality devoid of modern conveniences like electricity and running water, the couple must adapt to survive, learning to fend for themselves and depend solely on each other.

Meanwhile, shattered by Vanessa’s death and the world’s collapse, Walt embarks on a profound journey. He decides to walk to Los Angeles, the place Vanessa intended to move to after leaving him. He anticipates this journey might be his last, a symbolic walk filled with grief, reflection, and impending doom.

However, the despair deepens when, months into the pandemic, a massive alien vessel emerges above Santa Monica Bay. The devastation of humanity was not a mere accident or a consequence of human folly. The virus was a premeditated attack, unleashed by extraterrestrial colonists with a dark purpose. Walt’s encounter with a horrifying crablike creature confirms humanity’s worst fears. The aliens are here to finish what the virus began. The remaining survivors, diminished in number and spirit, may stand little chance against this formidable external force.

The Good

The Good: The Breakers does two amazing things. First, it changes the plot themes if not actual genres halfway through the novel. It starts off as a book about a worldwide plague. And to its credit, it does an excellent job making both the disease as well as the populaces and government’s reaction to the same realistic and entertaining. As someone who just lived through a pandemic, I was in danger of finding a bunch of eye-rolling moments since Breakers was written in 2012. Instead, scenes like one of the main characters visiting dozens of drug stores looking over empty shelves for cold medication struck me as true.

Then Breakers does something amazing. It switches gears to an alien invasion novel complete with flying saucers, octopus like aliens, and camps for the remaining humans. And it pulls it off seamlessly. Here I was really enjoying my post apocalypse plague tale and a flying saucer shows up. My first reaction was this is going to ruin the book. To my surprise, it made the book even better.

The second miracle Breakers does is introduce excellent, engaging three-dimensional characters you care about in the last quarter of the book. Here is a pet peeve I almost didn’t realise I had. Too many books spend the first three chapters establishing the main characters and those are the only fleshed out characters for the rest of the narrative. Everyone else is what the incels might call NPC’s just there to move the plot along or create obstacles for our main characters.

Breakers showed me the light. It introduces about a half dozen survivors at the end and they are not just three-dimensional but our characters’ story becomes in many ways central to the narrative. Breakers becomes a book about these new folk as much as it is about our original two couples. Partially because our main characters’ numbers have realistically dropped precipitously by then. Another realistic touch in a book about both a plague and an alien invasion.

Edward W. Robertson starts the book with two couples, one on the West coast and one in Manhattan. The story jumps between the two. While it does all eventually come together, I actually found the moving between both stories in alternating chapters quite refreshing and an excellent way to tell the story.

One last thing I pick on author Edward W Robertson’s writing style a bit below. But I enjoyed it. I understand it will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Though with such good plotting and characters, I doubt it will be a deal breaker.

The Bad

The Bad: Edward W Robertson’s style will not be for everyone. He loves his metaphors and similes, mixing them up like a peanut butter sandwich in a blender. It can get a bit much. There are a lot of them, sometimes twice a sentence, and they can overwhelm the actual story being told like June bugs at a picnic.

The good news is that Edward W Robertson. is an excellent writer, and it is very much its own style, so one gets used to them after a while like an overweight cat on your lap.

The Ugly

The Ugly: Well, the Aliens are ugly. I confess there is one scene where one of our characters rescues a bunch of people from an alien camp and kills all the aliens and then he leaves them in the desert with no clothes telling them they are on thier own.

I know that these are ruthless times, but it seemed a bit out of character and strategically dubious as well. Since he just rescued them and there was an alien base filled with weapons, he could have least armed them, showed them how to use the alien guns and marched to the nearest small town to raid the abandoned building for shoes and clothes.

His actions seemed both cruel and short-sighted and took me out of the story for a bit. But Edward W Robertson had earned my trust by then, so I just rolled with it.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: Breakers is my second favorite book I have read so far this year. Pride and Prejudice beats it out overall but really who can compete with Jane Austin despite the lack of alien invasions and worldwide plagues in the Regency countryside. I grew to love the writing style of Breakers, but what really stands out is the solid character work. Excellent well thought out plotting means little if you don’t have great people to follow and care about. And Breakers has that in spades. An outstanding book I am surprised is not more popular.

Random Notes from reading

Breakers does not really play its hand right away. We meet two couples at various stages of disfunction. The writing is reminiscent of Chandler and is very good. Lots of excellent pull quotes in the first four chapters. There is a hint of an upcoming plague (Covid is still eight years away from when this book is written.) He nails the drugstores being out of cold medication, though so kudos.

Well written and moving along nicely. I am enjoying this.


I am not falling out of love with Breakers as much as I am questioning my love. I am suspecting my praise for the style of writing may be more connected to the wonderful narration style than the words. That said plot wise the pandemic is here in full force. I personally could have used a slightly slower burn, but time will tell and I am open to changing my mind on this. The author nails a lot of the details eight years before the actual pandemic, so kudos to him for that.

Alright, we are putting this author on the need to read list. The writing is excellent, and he gets a lot right about how a pandemic plays out. (Though lucky them, they have Obama instead of Trump as president.)


Some good movement and a nice job introducing a Bruce Willis style actor hiring bodyguards off Craigslist expanding the world in LA while our New York gent is preparing to recreate The Stand.

Still a very solid five star book. Both characters are strong and the book is better for switching back and forth between coasts. The author is also doing a masterful job describing the action without slowing down the story. Sometimes the characters particularly, not our protagonists, speak a little too well for the circumstances. And sometimes our leads are a bit snarky and metaphor heavy for their own believability. Still, the book has more excellent lines on a page than many books manage in thier entirety. cough “Pearl Savage” cough.


Aliens? Really Aliens? Well, it is a possibility. (The second part is called first contact and there is a large dirigible like spaceship thingy.

Our California couple are becoming pretty good survivors, getting in shape and mostly fucking and surfing their life away in some luxury. As any homeless person can tell you, if you are going to the outdoors, the California beaches are a winner.

Walt, on the other hand, has run into some Deliverance extras on his walk from NY to LA. He convincingly dispatches a couple with a pistol and takes out some bandits at a distance with a rifle. Great quote from the Buddha: if you meet another Buddha on the road to enlightenment, kill him. How you can no more convince a thief not top be a thief than convince a weed to become a good plant. Better off to kill them and move on. World is shitty enough without people making it shittier.

Overall, the story is moving to a good and logical pace while still surprising. Excellent writing abounds with good internal dialogue from all protagonists.

Overall, I am not feeling the alien invasion plotline. That said, the author is doing a bang-up job describing it. The scene with our Santa Monica couple hiding during a foraging mission while a Porsche flies by with an alien spacecraft in pursuit is very well done. In fact, all the scenes are painted excellently. This is a very well-written book. Just not thrilled with the plot turn, but keeping an open mind.

More Alien attack stuff. Our Brooklyn boy encounters some more reasonable survivors where he tries to trade information for food and water and when he tells the guy, It is Aliens the guy understandably thinks you Brooklyn guy is pulling the other one.

Our Brooklyn guy has a drag our fight where he kills the Alien. He understandably takes the aliens tech as much as a trophy as anything else. When the home office uses that tech realistically to track their boy, our Brooklyn guy escapes only with his life but loses all his supplies.

Meanwhile, The Aliens inspect California house, prompting our hero couple to come up with the idea to steal some bikes from a bike shop down near the beach and make thier way to a cabin in the woods. In Colorado. Like Brooklyn guy, it seems like a poorly thought idea that the characters are understandably behind motivated by the fear right in front of them. Really excellent writing and characterization all around. We end Californias chapters with a Saving Private Ryan style invasion, but Tom Hanks is an Alien and the couple rescuing a wounded female soldier and taking her back to the house are the Nazis. (Later in the book we get a report of the action from the wounded girl and it turns out they were the ones storming the beach)

Brooklyn shoots the laughing alien story guy for reneging on thier deal. and manages to up his scavenging game. Honestly, Breakers is five minutes away from being a Fallout inspired LitRPG with the wonderful descriptions of scavenging. I really mean this as a compliment BTW.

We are in full fighting the aliens mode and you know what? Fun… Our California couple rescued an injured girl on the beach and it is nice and realistic how she is on the mend. Her stories of a resistance group are exciting and grounded. Our New Yorker is going all Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry on an alien base to rescue some human cattle and again both exciting and yet grounded. I am loving this book and the weather is back to walkies mode.

Well, our three protagonists finally met up. And it was worth the wait. The author takes a risk having the woman they rescued go all single white female as the wife points out, eventually shooting the husband in the leg before wifey puts three in her brainpan.

Before I get to the plot, I just want to say how brilliant this book is. There are asides that I just love. Such as it seemed off like a memory that you realise could have been a dream or a story someone else told you.

This is my favorite book of the year. Highly recommended. We are almost at the end, so we shall see how our author hits the landing. I don’t always agree with the characters’ decisions, but I am so entertained and impressed I have handed over my usual instincts to rewrite the story and given myself completely over to the author’s talented hands.

I don’t know how but Breakers is getting better the more I read. The chapter sets up an analogy of decisions being boats you can take in a stream and end is the chapter with a very pointed a new boat appears in the stream. People are three dimensional and act like adults and have excellent backstories and goodness. This is a well-crafted novel.

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