After the Flood by Kassandra Montag
Post-Apocalyptic | Adult Fiction
Published by William Morrow
Released September 3rd, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Note: I received an unsolicited ARC of this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.
I’m a bit obsessed with post-apocalyptic literature, so I was thrilled when I received a copy of After the Flood in the mail. Apparently not excited enough to read it until a couple of months after its release date, but excited.
After the Flood takes place in the future, when most of the world is covered by water, and the few remaining communities are dangerous and found on mountaintops that are tall enough to still be above water. There’s no more government or social structure, and raiders are mainly controlling the seas. It’s a world where people struggle to survive through fishing and trade and have to fend for themselves when things get dangerous.
We follow Myra and her daughter Pearl as they travel between trading posts on a small boat they named Bird. Life is far from easy for them, but they’ve managed to survive. Myra, however, still mourns the absence of her oldest daughter, Row, who was taken from her by her husband, Jacob. It’s been seven years since he took her away, and finding Row has always been on the back of her mind.
Finding Row becomes Myra’s main goal, however, after hearing that she might be alive in a colony in what’s left of Greenland. From that point on, Myra does whatever is necessary to get to Row, even if that means using people who are trying to help her.
This novel was really enjoyable to read. Again, I love post-apocalyptic fiction, so the setting of a mostly-water covered world was really interesting to me, and I loved the realistic, simplistic world-building that Montag created. Mainly, I loved the lack of world-building, because in a world where there are so few people and resources left, creating any kind of structured society would be difficult. While I’m not positive that a completely water-covered world is realistic, the way the author portrayed a broken-down society was definitely plausible.
There really aren’t any heroes in this story, and I appreciated that. Myra, our main character, is manipulative, selfish, and judgemental, but despite that, she’s still an intriguing character. As the reader, you understand her motivations so deeply that, even if you can’t praise her actions, at least you know why she is acting the way she does.
Such a quality is visible in many of the characters, and one of the themes of this novel that I encountered over and over again was that people have complex reasons for their actions. Two of the side characters, Daniel and Abran, are so multifaceted that my opinions of them shifted up and down many times. I like this in a book – characters that are perfect are often boring. People are infinitely complex, and I appreciate authors that reflect that in their characters.
The ARC that I received stated this on its cover: “Life is about more than surviving.” That’s another big theme of this book. For the first portion of the novel, Myra’s only goal is surviving and/or finding Row. It’s only after she enters a larger community and learns to appreciate them as individuals and their shared goals that she realizes that surviving isn’t the same thing as living.
Lastly, through Myra, Kassandra Montag shares how difficult parenting can be. Myra adores both of her daughters but oftentimes is overwhelmed by their presence or her responsibility towards them. Despite not being a mother myself, I can appreciate the difficulty of having and raising children, and it’s refreshing to read an account of how difficult it can be, rather than following many books that regurgitate endlessly how much of a joy it is.
I’m rating this book 3.5 stars because I generally enjoyed it, but it wasn’t in any way mind-provoking or unique. It’s worth a read, especially if you enjoy post-apocalyptic settings or unlikeable/untrustworthy main characters. However, I’m not sure if it’s a book that I can see myself re-reading.
Pair with a candle!
This candle is one that I’ve burned quite a bit in my house, and it’s perfect to pair with this novel. The scents here include juniper berries and glacier, which reminded me of the endless ocean and scavenged wood common throughout the novel.