A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year
An inventive and riveting epic saga, After the Flood signals the arrival of an extraordinary new talent.
A little more than a century from now, our world has been utterly transformed. After years of slowly overtaking the continent, rising floodwaters have obliterated America’s great coastal cities and then its heartland, leaving nothing but an archipelago of mountaintop colonies surrounded by a deep expanse of open water.
Stubbornly independent Myra and her precocious seven-year-old daughter, Pearl, fish from their small boat, the Bird, visiting dry land only to trade for supplies and information in the few remaining outposts of civilization. For seven years, Myra has grieved the loss of her oldest daughter, Row, who was stolen by her father after a monstrous deluge overtook their home in Nebraska. Then, in a violent confrontation with a stranger, Myra suddenly discovers that Row was last seen in a far-off encampment near the Arctic Circle. Throwing aside her usual caution, Myra and Pearl embark on a perilous voyage into the icy northern seas, hoping against hope that Row will still be there.
On their journey, Myra and Pearl join forces with a larger ship and Myra finds herself bonding with her fellow seekers who hope to build a safe haven together in this dangerous new world. But secrets, lust, and betrayals threaten their dream, and after their fortunes take a shocking—and bloody—turn, Myra can no longer ignore the question of whether saving Row is worth endangering Pearl and her fellow travelers.
A compulsively readable novel of dark despair and soaring hope, After the Flood is a magnificent, action packed, and sometimes frightening odyssey laced with wonder—an affecting and wholly original saga both redemptive and astonishing.
Montag's first novel, an intriguing and innovative woman-centered swashbuckling quest narrative, centers on the social impact of climate change a little over a century from now. At the heart of the story is a mother's effort to protect her eight-year-old daughter and rescue her 12-year-old daughter from possible internment aboard a "breeding ship," where "raider" crews force captive women to become pregnant. Myra inhabits a water-inundated world in which people live on boats or in mountaintop community enclaves. After Myra's husband, Jacob, kidnaps her elder daughter, Rowena (called Row), she and her younger daughter, Pearl, live on a boat called Bird; they survive alone by trading fish until Myra saves the life of a navigator named Daniel. When Bird sinks, the three join a larger community aboard Sedna, where Myra, obsessed with rescuing Row, stops at nothing to convince the charismatic captain to perilously sail north to where she believes Row is located. Readers who enjoy postapocalyptic fiction and strong female heroes will appreciate Myra, a super-survivalist who combines Wonder Woman's physical prowess and the unsinkable Molly Brown's resilience. The endless series of crises facing Myra becomes wearying after a while, and those hoping for an optimistic conclusion will be disappointed. Nonetheless, this is a promising debut that will generally please fans of climate apocalypse stories.