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Publisher's Summary

On Zero Day of the first and last cyberwar in human history the internet went dark, transport and power grids collapsed and cities began to starve. Ten days later millions have died from thirst and starvation, from violence and from the simple failure of the world’s machines to keep them alive.   

This second installment of John Birmingham’s End of Days trilogy finds James O’Donnell and his friends Rick, Michelle and Melissa hunkered down in the wilderness, where they know a horde of starving, desperate exiles from the graveyard of the US East Coast is heading their way.  

On the far side of the continent, in the Pacific Northwest, Jonas Murdoch helps lead the good folk of Silverton in defending themselves from waves of starving and desperate refugees pouring out of Seattle.   

And slowly, cautiously navigating the inland waterways of California, Jodi Sarjanan and Ellie Jabbarah negotiate an apocalyptic landscape of burning skyscrapers and marauding gangs.   

All of them are seeking sanctuary. A safe place where the madness hasn’t penetrated. But does such a place exist?  

And what if they need to sacrifice their very humanity in the struggle to reach it?

©2019 John Birmingham (P)2019 Audible Australia Pty Ltd.

What listeners say about Fail State

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What a ride!

I loved spending more time with these characters. After the first book, the action has really dialled up a notch, while at the same time taking the stakes to a new level. It feels surreal to listening to this book while China experiences its current outbreak issues. This all feels very much like it’s just around the corner. JB is a great writer, but hopefully this tale doesn’t become a prophetic one.

10 people found this helpful

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Enjoying the books very much....but

But in my opinion, this is one book broken up into two, so far, but it’s listed as a trilogy, so when is the next one going to be available please?

8 people found this helpful

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A little too much Silverton

it was a good follow-up to the first book overall, but there was a disproportionate amount of time spent on the continued story of the town of Silverton and Jonas Murdoch. These are not sympathetic characters, and I found myself less interested in their dynamic than the other concurrent story lines.

6 people found this helpful

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Excellent

I’m a fan of the apocalyptic genre. I’ve been reading John Birmingham’s books for decades now and I’m glad he has moved into this genre. Great depth to the characters and interesting story lines.

6 people found this helpful

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brilliant

great story. great narration. my only criticism is that it ended and I have no idea when the next book will be available.

4 people found this helpful

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JB does it again

An absolutely banger. JBs signature style is brought to life by Rupert's superb narration, and the result is a listen that grips you by the short and curlies, and refuses to let go for the duration.

I don't know how, but the second entry to this series actually manages to surpass the first. Do yourself a favour and binge this post-apocalyptic masterpiece.

4 people found this helpful

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A bit of a fantasy

Great concept, but wanders into macho man fantasy at times. And ends rather abruptly. Overall, ok

3 people found this helpful

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Phenomenal

I struggle to put into words how much I love this series. Brilliant writing

3 people found this helpful

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Great binge over the summer break.....

...but when's the next one!!!! I want to hear how it all ends. Brilliant followup to Zero Day Code. He really does write some amazing book series.

3 people found this helpful

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a cracker follow up to the nightmare ZeroDay code

the action continues from the momement the first book ended as things get worse for our protagonists in this descent in the apocolypse.

the long tunnel of these horrors speed towards a light which resolves itself to be the light if an oncoming train driven by militarized bikkies leaving us with a nailbighting cliff hanger if an ending.

2 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Howard Wetsman MD
  • Howard Wetsman MD
  • 16-12-2019

Two Down and I Can't Wait for Number Three

John Birmingham does it again, taking us believably to a time and place we hope never comes. From the disturbing insights into the mind of a sociopath to the anguish of parents made helpless by events, Birmingham sends us on an emotional rollercoaster that few will want to stop. Some of his past work has been nearly prophetic; let's hope he's just writing fiction this time. A must read.

6 people found this helpful

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  • TD
  • 19-01-2020

Hope it picks up

I have read most of JB's works of fiction. I am probably not his demographic but his writing is highly entertaining, and I think he generally works hard for his fan base. I enjoy most of the characters, even the antiheroes, and the premises are often clever and intriguing. The current series started out great, but the second installment feels formulaic and full of filler. There, I've said it. I began fast forwarding through chapters because it became all too apparent what the reveal was going to be and I didn't need to listen to 15 minutes of minutiae to get there.

Have listened to both titles in the series now and the story line is only scant weeks out from the index event. I'm in no hurry, plus there is a ton of potential material here, and would thoroughly enjoy the exploration. But not if I have to slog through 4 minutes of descriptive prose dedicated to the state of someone's bladder, or be reminded repeatedly of some character's quirks, or have to hear for the umpteenth time about this or that. One of the author's gifts is that you really do experience the setting, what it feels like to be in the characters' shoes, etc. But it feels like this is being done at the expense of moving the plot line along. I am not as keen to listen to book 3.

Rupert Degas is a gifted narrator but the production could have used a decent edit. It is set in the US, so giving non-standard pronunciation of certain words, and even some place names, was jarring. And if one is going to attempt regional accents they should be accurate/appropriate to the setting and refrain from caricature. But in fairness, the sheer number of characters, especially in certain settings like Silverton, must have been immensely challenging. Mr. Degas' overall delivery is deft and a great example of the fine art of audio narration.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Phoenician
  • 30-12-2019

Only One Thing Wrong

Honestly, the only thing wrong with Fail State is that we will need to wait another 6 months for the conclusion to this gripping series. This is by far Birmo's best series since Axis of Time.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 23-01-2020

Great reader

Someone who does proper accents and actually pronounce the english language properly. Really a pleasure to listen too.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sue
  • 04-05-2021

Jonas has an erection

Stopped listening with 2 hours 31 minutes to go. Author substitutes lots of sex descriptions for plot. Lesbian love. Lots of casual heterosexual sex, a lot featuring anti-hero Jonas. References to men's scrotums retracting in different situations. What is this? Junior High boys locker room? Some cursing. Lots of gun play and killing. Many characters thinking it is ok to steal if you need these items. This book 2 may appeal to males under age 25. I was impressed this came out in December 2019 because of the plague plot and real life 2020 pandemic - how timely. The designer plague targeting a specific group very interesting, but not enough time devoted to that. Narrator excellent.

I was disappointed and repulsed by the development of this story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • RJ
  • 27-02-2021

China's miscalculation!

This second volume of the series is not nearly as exciting as the opening volume. The story now focuses on the several groups of people dealing with the chaos thrust upon them. There are occasional bouts of violence and firefights sprinkled throughout, mainly by evacuees from the cities encountering roadblocks or marauders eager to take what was not theirs. More than any other location, the town of Silverton garnered the most attention. Societal breakdown happens within a matter of days once the enormity of the crisis is made known. Unfortunately, this reaction is not merely an author’s imagination, this madness will take place. Will each of us be prepared for such a situation? Back to the story. China does not come away unscathed in this engagement. Retribution was delivered to their doorstep to divert their attention. It was intimated that Russia also would suffer some payback. Speaking of Russia, since their cyber-attack on our banking system, they seem to be concentrating their efforts in Europe. All-in-all, this volume chronicled a lot about the people caught up in the apocalypse but little of the attackers. Leave that to the next volume I guess.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nicholas J Meservier
  • 16-01-2020

Too short

Excellent storytelling. I just wish this was released in 20hr blocks. It seems like not enough happens in the larger story since we get up close and personal with several groups, but in each one you feel like you’re there trying to survive.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 26-03-2021

Walking dead.

This was entertaining. But it’s basically the walking dead without the zombies. I’m sure there are much better books out there. But this is just another one. I was entertained.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ed
  • 06-01-2020

Good Books

It’s a very good book and was generally enjoyed. I would recommend John Birmingham’s books and Rupert Degas was good and he did a good but every time he used that English accent it reminded me of that Geico lizard .. lol.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Vallon Davis
  • 21-12-2019

Outstanding

Great followup, picks up right where it left off. looking forwars to the next one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Stuart Thain
  • 13-03-2020

Great read....highly recommended

Read the first two books in the series in succession and loved them both. This is an horrific and thought provoking story, because it's absolutely plausible and so well researched. Everything gels here.The writing is taut and doesn't meander too far way from the story arc. Event narrative is full but there's no padding. The characters are all credible. The story doesn't depend on coincidence or ridiculous implausibilities to move it along. Full credit to the narrator, who acts the parts rather than just reads the words. His sense of timing and interpretation are a marvel. He's also very good at accents (although a couple of the female characters are a bit exaggerated... they stand out because all the others accents are just so good). If you like this post apocalyptic genre you will love these books. PS ....this series should be required reading for any British government minister thinking of handing a contract for the provision of essential infrastructure to a certain foreign power because they put in a very attractively priced tender (they couldn't possibly have an ulterior motive could they).

3 people found this helpful

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  • R. SMITH
  • 23-02-2020

Surprisingly good!

I wasn’t sure whether I’d had enough of apocalypse novels having ready many over the years, but this series is really good and just different enough to make you keep guessing; especially the very well though out way the Chinese did over the internet to cause chaos (the story starts by telling you this so it’s hardly a spoiler). Birmingham’s style is easy but sophisticated and his descriptions are vivid. The narrator was also excellent.

2 people found this helpful

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  • C Vernon
  • 04-09-2021

Nothing new, unimaginative...

... Zero Code Day was much better. This is just tired post-apocalypse American nonsense. Nothing original here but it was well read. I won't bother with book three.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Povilas
  • 17-04-2020

Standard post-apocalypse

Average post-apocalypse, the plot is becoming predictable. No new ideas compared to the first book. Zooming out of the main story line with interludes is refreshing, but too rare.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Quirkyjay
  • 08-02-2020

Fabulous!

I am really loving this series. The second book was even better than the first which did a lot of scene setting. Great characters and lots of action with top notch narration from Rupert Degas. What sets this apocalyptic story apart from most is the fact that this is wholly believable, in fact it seemed scarily prophetic! The interlude chapters were great for giving the reader a real sense of the scale of what was happening around the globe. My only criticism is the jarring end to the first book & the jarring start to the second. There was no wrapping up or conclusion to the first book, it just ended very suddenly. Likewise with Fail State, there was no reminder of each character nor any sort of recap on the events at the end of book one. It did not in any way spoil my enjoyment of reading at all but spent the first few chapters thinking - who are they again? What just happened to them...? Overall though, great book & highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael Rowley
  • 11-01-2022

A good story but not for everyone. Again.

When I say not for everyone I mean anyone offended by casual racism and misogyny, terrible female voice impressions and the worst British accent this side of Dick Van Dyke. Aside from that, I like the characters or loathe them as written, and I always enjoy a good yarn in an apocalyptic setting.

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  • Ronan
  • 28-11-2021

2nd book finished at 2am....

Enjoyed this conspiratorial survivalist covid ish worst case scenario end of world book. Its 2 am and I want to start the 3rd book even though I have a big day tomorrow and already lost 2 hrs sleep finishing this book. it's not a perfect book but it is an easy listen and Narrated very well indeed.
someone else said it was like walking dead without the zombies and I think they got that part spot on. I kinda liked lots of different experiences from people all around the world.
without giving anything away , I'd say Joe Rogan listeners will probably love tbis. I listened to joe in the very early days when he recorded podcasts on his phone with Redban. Yeah, that early ... all conspiracies and big foot....I'd say this book is somewhere between those very early days and graham Hancock's first appearance. just a bit of fun with a what if about it.

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  • Lomedae
  • 19-11-2021

Gripping, action packed story brilliantly read

Read by one of the best in the business, coupled with the craftely and imnersive writing makes for a non stop adventure.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. A. L. Derevyankin
  • 29-10-2021

Impressive

Loved it. Different from the first book in that there is less of the geopolitical plotting and more apocalyptic scenes. Still very gripping story and narrative. Would recommend.

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  • Gary
  • 07-10-2021

Continuing the awesome story!

The story continues and develops. New characters and more depth. Same awesome action. Absolutely
Fantastic!