Adam C. Zern offers his thoughts on William R. Forstchen's One Second After:
"Reading post-apocalyptic books is almost always a form of self-induced torture. (A notable exception would be Alas, Babylon). They're depressing, sometimes crushingly so (think The Road by Cormac McCarthy), fatalstic, and possibly prescient, but who can really know? Therefore, you might be torturing yourself for nothing. Unfortunately, William Forstchen's One Second After didn't do much to break away from the self-induced torture genre and even overlaid an excessively desperate story with groan producing melodrama and sloppy patriotism. In other words, One Second After is not a very good book.
One Second After is a novelization of a survival guide rather than being a novel about characters trying to survive. Revolving around an unexpected EMP attack on the United States (and elsewhere), the author relentlessly piles on one 'did you think of that?' survival fact after another. In my opinion, Mr. Forstchen was far more concerned with sharing his research findings regarding how lousy things would get if we were attacked with an EMP than he is with developing relationships between characters and creating emotional crescendos. That's not to say he doesn't try at times. There was one or two genuinely touching scenes, but in a 528 page book that's frustratingly insufficient. I felt bad for some characters, yes, but I felt worse that the book wasn't over.
One Second After does serve a purpose. It's a springboard for conversations about the end-times—where will you be and what will you do? But can't that purpose be served with a well-written article in Discover Magazine or Scientific American? Clearly I was not impressed with One Second After, and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone else’s Thousander list."