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RIVERS by Michael Farris Smith Kirkus Star


by Michael Farris Smith

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4516-9942-5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A man attempts to put his past behind him and start a new life in the lawless society left behind in a storm-wracked post-societal Gulf Coast. 

When a series of ever more intense storms causes widespread devastation along the Gulf Coast, the U.S. government creates the Line. North of the Line, there is safety, security and the rule of law. South of the line is a lawless, storm-lashed no man’s land where supplies are short, life is cheap, and might makes right. Cohen, who was born and raised near the Gulf, stayed on after almost everyone else evacuated, kept in place by memories of his dead wife and unborn child, who died during the unfolding environmental disaster’s early days. One day, on his way back from a supply run, Cohen is ambushed by a young couple, who proceed to steal his Jeep and leave him for dead. When he eventually makes his way back to his home, he finds the place has been ransacked, his supplies have been looted, and, most troubling of all, his remaining mementos of his past life with his wife have been taken. With all that he cares about gone, Cohen heads out to recover his lost memories and to seek revenge against those who stole from him. Instead of revenge, though, he finds what may just be a reason to go on living. But in order to go on living, he’s going to have to head north, and there are many obstacles to overcome before Cohen can safely cross the Line to start a new life. Smith’s vision of a post-apocalyptic society left behind by civilization is expertly executed. This world is chilling—all the more so for its believability—and it is peopled by compelling, fully realized characters, some of whom only exist in the form of ghosts. In contrast to this bleak world, Smith’s prose is lush, descriptive and even beautiful. A compelling plot, fueled by a mounting sense of tension and hope in the face of increasing hopelessness, will keep readers engrossed to the very end.

Tense, moving and expertly executed.