A fortifying affirmation of human endurance in the face of our dire climate prognosis.

AFTER THE FLOOD

A woman braves a waterlogged world to find her daughter in this dystopian adventure novel.

More than a century in the future, when the coasts and the cities along them have been completely flooded and countries have been “cut to half their size” by the ocean, raider ships prowl the seas creating new colonies by separating families, seizing property, and brutally murdering anyone who resists. Myra and her younger daughter Pearl, however, are just trying to get by: They live on a boat and barter their fishing hauls at trading posts for valuable supplies. “I don’t join groups and I don’t care about resistance,” Myra tells a friend. She learns that her older daughter, Row, who was taken by Myra’s husband seven years prior when Nebraska finally flooded, might still be alive—but to reach her, she must make a treacherous voyage north to a raider colony known as the Valley near what used to be Greenland, an iceberg-dotted journey impossible in her too-small boat. But when Myra and Pearl join a ship called the Sedna, led by a charismatic but troubled man named Abran whose goal is to found a new settlement untouched by the violence of raiders, Myra suddenly faces a new set of problems she’s unaccustomed to handling. How can she justify changing the Sedna’s course for her own ends as the bonds she forms with the crew deepen? How can she fulfill her responsibilities to both her missing daughter and the daughter she still has? And can she manage to lay down her fundamental distrust in a world where everyone has his or her own objective? Debut novelist Montag manages to marry page-turning drama and emotional depth, vividly imagining a world where society rebuilds itself from scratch and history repeats, where bubonic plague flares up again and rope and sailcloth and antibiotics are all coveted goods, and where everyone is moving on in some way from insurmountable loss. “I keep thinking it feels like climbing a staircase while looking down,” one woman tells Myra about losing her children. “You won’t forget where you’ve been, but you’ve got to keep rising. It all gets further away, but it’s all still there”.

A fortifying affirmation of human endurance in the face of our dire climate prognosis.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288936-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

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THE FIFTH SEASON

From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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Very smart and very entertaining.

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THE POWER

All over the world, teenage girls develop the ability to send an electric charge from the tips of their fingers.

It might be a little jolt, as thrilling as it is frightening. It might be powerful enough to leave lightning-bolt traceries on the skin of people the girls touch. It might be deadly. And, soon, the girls learn that they can awaken this new—or dormant?—ability in older women, too. Needless to say, there are those who are alarmed by this development. There are efforts to segregate and protect boys, laws to ensure that women who possess this ability are banned from positions of authority. Girls are accused of witchcraft. Women are murdered. But, ultimately, there’s no stopping these women and girls once they have the power to kill with a touch. Framed as a historical novel written in the far future—long after rule by women has been established as normal and, indeed, natural—this is an inventive, thought-provoking work of science fiction that has already won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in Britain. Alderman (The Liars’ Gospel, 2013, etc.) chronicles the early days of matriarchy’s rise through the experiences of four characters. Tunde is a young man studying to be a journalist who happens to capture one of the first recordings of a girl using the power; the video goes viral, and he devotes himself to capturing history in the making. After Margot’s daughter teaches her to use the power, Margot has to hide it if she wants to protect her political career. Allie takes refuge in a convent after running away from her latest foster home, and it’s here that she begins to understand how newly powerful young women might use—and transform—religious traditions. Roxy is the illegitimate daughter of a gangster; like Allie, she revels in strength after a lifetime of knowing the cost of weakness. Both the main story and the frame narrative ask interesting questions about gender, but this isn’t a dry philosophical exercise. It’s fast-paced, thrilling, and even funny.

Very smart and very entertaining.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-54761-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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