Thursday, May 14, 2020

Slow, Introspective Dystopian Novel a Bit of a Slog

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

With floodwaters rising steadily over the last 100 years, the world has dwindled to a string of small colonies perched on the mountain peaks that used to soar far above civilization.  Oceans of dark, impenetrable water are all around, forcing many to live solely on the water, stepping on land rarely and only to gather news and supplies.  Ever since the floods swallowed what was left of Nebraska, Myra has lived on a 15-foot long, 5-foot wide boat with her 7-year-old daughter, Pearl.  Although her life is focused mainly on keeping Pearl fed and out of danger, Myra has another purpose guiding her actions.  She's desperate to find her older daughter, Row, who was stolen from Myra by her husband seven years ago.  

Just when Myra is giving up hope of ever finding Row, a stranger claims to have spotted her in a remote Arctic Circle colony.  Is it true?  Even if it is, can Myra really make the long, arduous journey to such a far-flung spot?  Regardless, she has to try.  But such an undertaking will require getting help from strangers and she stopped trusting other human beings long ago.  Desperate, she throws her lot in with a group of pilgrims looking for the perfect place to create a utopian society.  Even in a bigger ship, with a crew of people who seem trustworthy, Myra feels anxious.  Can she keep herself and Pearl safe all the way to the Arctic Circle?  What if Row isn't there?  With the trip becoming more dangerous with each mile, Myra has to decide what is more important—keeping Pearl safe or finding Row—because the farther she travels, the more apparent it's becoming that she can't do both ...

Of all the dystopian worlds I've encountered in books and movies, I'm most creeped out by the watery ones.  There's just something about the fathoms below ... With its unsettling setting and sad, introspective vibe, After the Flood, a debut novel by Kassandra Montag, is a haunting read in more ways than one.  It's not a page-turner by any means; in fact, there are only occasional spurts of action.  This made the story a bit of a slog for me.  I also had a little trouble with the characters.  I found them an interesting lot, but they were written in a way that felt removed, which made it tough to connect with them.  Nevertheless, I found Montag's prose assured, the world she created fascinating, and her heroine intriguing.  I finished the book because I wanted to know what was going to happen to Myra and her daughters.  In the end, though, After the Flood turned out to be just an okay read for me.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  You?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language, violence, sexual content, blood/gore, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of After the Flood from the generous folks at William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins).  Thank you!

6 comments:

  1. I'm not a strong swimmer so watery realms always make me feel a bit out of control which makes me nervous! It's too bad this was a meh for you. I think I'll take a pass.

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  2. I've wondered about this one. I love dystopian reads, but not when I don't connect with the characters, or when they read slow. Don't know if I'll try this one or not. Have a good weekend! :)

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  3. I've had this one on my TBR for a while, but haven't really been motivated to read it. I don't think I would be able to sit through it yet.

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  4. Not for me at all. Like Katherine, I'm not a strong swimmer and this just sounds way too depressing.

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  5. Aw I am sorry that you didn't enjoy this one more. I do think it was slow for sure, but like you said, the water dystopian is absolutely the most terrifying! So I think that helped keep me engaged. Great review!

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  6. I love dystopian novels so I jumped all over this one when I became aware of it. My reaction to it was similar to yours and I think I rated it a 4 on GoodReads only because I couldn't do a 3 1/2 rating on that site.

    Part of the reason I didn't end up enjoying it as much as I thought I would is that I read it not long after reading A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World. I absolutely loved that one and the two novels are similar enough that I couldn't help comparing them to each other - much to the detriment, unfortunately, of After the Flood.

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