This is apparently an edited and polished version of a previous release. The writing was tight and flowed well, although the author does come off as a little paranoid.
The premise is that the economic collapse of 2008 was much worse than it turned out to be. The country rapidly descends into massive unemployment and homelessness. Basic necessities become scarce. People have to band together in tribes to survive.
Although there are hints of a big bad I was actually glad that for the most part there isn't one in this book. Don't get me wrong, if civil society really did break down I'm sure there would be no shortage of strongmen kingpins. But it's become very formulaic in post-apocalyptic or zombie novels to have the kingpin try and take whatever location and resources the protagonists have.
The ending doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. It's not that I don't buy that the government would order troops to fire it's that the government has essentially been absent for the entire book and then suddenly at the end they get their act together enough to distribute basic supplies. Before I realized it was part of a series I thought the author just got tired of writing it and threw together a quick ending.
I have some real concerns about the next book based on the reviews but I'll check it out.