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

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 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019



From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 2

Comparisons to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones series are inevitable, for this tale has elements of both—fantasy, the...

Brown presents the second installment of his epic science-fiction trilogy, and like the first (Red Rising, 2014), it’s chock-full of interpersonal tension, class conflict and violence.

The opening reintroduces us to Darrow au Andromedus, whose wife, Eo, was killed in the first volume. Also known as the Reaper, Darrow is a lancer in the House of Augustus and is still looking for revenge on the Golds, who are both in control and in the ascendant. The novel opens with a galactic war game, seemingly a simulation, but Darrow’s opponent, Karnus au Bellona, makes it very real when he rams Darrow’s ship and causes a large number of fatalities. In the main narrative thread, Darrow has infiltrated the Golds and continues to seek ways to subvert their oppressive and dominant culture. The world Brown creates here is both dense and densely populated, with a curious amalgam of the classical, the medieval and the futuristic. Characters with names like Cassius, Pliny, Theodora and Nero coexist—sometimes uneasily—with Daxo, Kavax and Sevro. And the characters inhabit a world with a vaguely medieval social hierarchy yet containing futuristic technology such as gravBoots. Amid the chronological murkiness, one thing is clear—Darrow is an assertive hero claiming as a birthright his obligation to fight against oppression: "For seven hundred years we have been enslaved….We have been kept in darkness. But there will come a day when we walk in the light." Stirring—and archetypal—stuff.  

Comparisons to The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones series are inevitable, for this tale has elements of both—fantasy, the future and quasi-historicism.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-345-53981-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014


From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 3

An ambitious and satisfying conclusion to a monumental saga.

Brown completes his science-fiction trilogy with another intricately plotted and densely populated tome, this one continuing the focus on a rebellion against the imperious Golds.

This last volume is incomprehensible without reference to the first two. Briefly, Darrow of Lykos, aka Reaper, has been “carved” from his status as a Red (the lowest class) into a Gold. This allows him to infiltrate the Gold political infrastructure…but a game’s afoot, and at the beginning of the third volume, Darrow finds himself isolated and imprisoned for his insurgent activities. He longs both for rescue and for revenge, and eventually he gets both. Brown is an expert at creating violent set pieces whose cartoonish aspects (“ ‘Waste ’em,’ Sevro says with a sneer” ) are undermined by the graphic intensity of the savagery, with razors being a favored instrument of combat. Brown creates an alternative universe that is multilayered and seething with characters who exist in a shadow world between history and myth, much as in Frank Herbert’s Dune. This world is vaguely Teutonic/Scandinavian (with characters such as Magnus, Ragnar, and the Valkyrie) and vaguely Roman (Octavia, Romulus, Cassius) but ultimately wholly eclectic. At the center are Darrow, his lover, Mustang, and the political and military action of the Uprising. Loyalties are conflicted, confusing, and malleable. Along the way we see Darrow become more heroic and daring and Mustang, more charismatic and unswerving, both agents of good in a battle against forces of corruption and domination. Among Darrow’s insights as he works his way to a position of ascendancy is that “as we pretend to be brave, we become so.”

An ambitious and satisfying conclusion to a monumental saga.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-345-53984-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

Close Quickview