This was a solid above average read. As a (former) semi-pilot (not having flown in over a year and only having achieved private pilot license means that I am very much a novice in the world of aviation), I enjoyed all of the plane details, really made me think about taking an instructor along and going up again soon just for the views and the " disembodied detachment you get flying. Like the world is as perfect as a train set and nothing bad can touch you".
I liked Hig's independence throughout the novel. He is very different from Bangley and Pops (who might be too similar and stereotypical to be real people), but he never wavers in his dedication to being human in this post-apocalyptic very non-human environment. Maybe it is because he was a poet and a naturalist, but I liked the "softer side" that he sticks with even in cold blood.
I was reminded of Enders Game (maybe because I just read it this past month)because the moral is similar: maybe we shouldn't assume all unknowns are enemies and instead think about how to communicate with others better.
I wondered how Hig and Bangley met originally. They met up after the "end of the world as we know it" but Bangley's motto is shoot on sight, never negotiate. I was very curious and would have liked to hear the story of their first encounter.
I didn't like the religious undertones (no surprise there). Hig is not overtly religious, but he thinks about God enough to annoy me. I also felt like he was a Jesus-rescuer for Cima and Pops. Just when they are going to have to abandon their home anyway, someone comes out of the sky to save them and bring them home to his promised land. A bit too annoying. And then, a few pages after I had this thought, Hig describes himself as a descending angel for the families.
There were two discrepancies that bothered me. First, Hig talks about locking the plane when it is parked at the ranch (just after he lands there), but the window was shot out, so a locked door would be useless. Second, when he is weighing and figuring to make take off calculations (which I did enjoy as I can remember looking at my POH and trying to figure minimum distances for clearance) he dumps a gas can (so he'd have an empty...lighter...can to fill with gas later), but then he leaves a second full can sitting in the field. My question is this...why does he just leave it there? Why doesn't Pops carry it with him on his hike to the road where they could presumably pick it up along with Pops? And similarly, why does Pops leave a whole day ahead of them to hike to the pick up spot when earlier he went out for the morning to check and confirm that the road was safe for landing? And, in fact, if the road was that close (Pops could hike there for a morning's work) why didn't Hig land there in the first place? I think that the road is in fact a day's hike away and the error lies in the scene in which Pops makes it there and back in one day, but I just hate these sort of discrepancies.
Overall it was well done. Certainly action packed and compelling storyline, but also very lyrical and poetic.