Brennan, who has a background in climate studies, effectively shows how individuals adapt to new, shocking situations. Rory's "army boots were removed from a corpse at the time of the flood without a second thought," and the boats no longer have life jackets: "life had little value." Occasionally, the point of view switches to wild animals, especially the arctic foxes, who are also struggling, a pivot that grants an especially rich perspective on the environmental calamity, despite interrupting the main narrative. In fact, the story feels crowded at times, with too many characters and plot lines to gain a deep sense for any of them, but the glimpses are engaging, and each story moves at a swift pace.
The most engrossing aspect of this apocalyptic adventure is Brennan's vision of how humans may organize themselves in a dystopian society. He has meticulously mapped out a future, as shown when the local Six offers Rory the sheriff's job, and we see a community that runs with a curious—and plausible—mix of democracy and commonsense oligarchy. But Brennan doesn’t shy away from the potential abuses: as the rulers become more desperate, they become more dictatorial, meting out swift and violent justice. Indeed, the book offers reasons for both hope and despair—and a message of our environmental future that will resonate long after the final page is read.
Takeaway: Sci-fi and climate fiction fans will relish this richly detailed—and all-too-possible—dystopian actioner.
Great for fans of: Diane Cook’s The New Wilderness, M. R. Carey’s Ramparts Trilogy.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B