Cover Image: The Deluge

The Deluge

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

THE DELUGE by Stephen Markley is the environmental doomsday equivalent of @StephenKing's THE STAND. Each character gives us a birds-eye view of armageddon. Timely, scary, yet full of hope. Flawed good people against our self destruction. Scarier than any horror novel. Stunning and absolutely brilliant. The kind of characters you miss when the story ends.

No writer has made the real world scarier this generation.

Was this review helpful?

So Markley doesn't quite know when to stop, piling plots on top of plots, punctuating them with disaster after disaster and churning everything toward a rapidly accelerating eco-apocalypse. But damn if it doesn't sweep you up in the struggle and chill and horror of a world unraveling in an all-too realistic fashion. The airport thriller version of Kim Stanley Robinson's 'Ministry for the Future,' but in a good way.

Was this review helpful?

4.5 stars

Wow, this was an investment. At 880 pages or 41 hours on audio, I knew going in that this would take some time. What I didn't expect was the emotional aspect of the near-future setting where the climate is being ignored and the politicians are being politicians. While this is a fictional read, it all felt too possible, which is terrifying.

If I had to go back and do this book again, I would 100% annotate the characters as I read. I never annotate, but in this one with so many players and settings, I often wished I could reference back to a different scene featuring that character.

This one is not going to work for everyone. For me though, it was worth the investment.

Was this review helpful?

The Deluge by Stephen Markley tackles one of the most pressing issues of our time—that of the climate crisis. This ambitious novel, spanning multiple timelines and featuring a diverse cast of complex characters, deserves a place on any thinking person’s bookshelf who is concerned about what human beings are doing to this planet in the name of progress.

The novel weaves together complex plotlines and explores the far-reaching consequences of our collective inaction when it comes to issues such as greenhouse gases, melting icebergs, and the destruction of the rainforest. Each character in the narrative has a significant and nuanced arc of change spurring the reader to examine their own part in the imminent crisis. It’s not often you find literary style blended seamlessly with a fast-paced story and for me, this makes The Deluge a must-read. The prose is both challenging and accessible. The author has obviously done his homework, both in terms of the hard science as well as the vivid descriptions and nuanced characters.

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, there are also moments of wit and humor that offer a ray of hope. This brilliant, prophetic, and timely novel would be perfect for book clubs and is sure to spur lively discussions.

Was this review helpful?

I tried to get into this book but it is a behemoth and I couldn't connect with any of it so had to put it down. We shift narrators regularly and not only could I not connect to any of them but one of them was downright sickening and I hated those chapters. I have heard from other readers that all of the storylines come together in the end, but at this length I couldnt slug through it to get to that point, and I'm not sure it couldve anyway. It is a very ambitious, very bleak read and in such bleak times not necessarily what I was looking for an my favorite entertainment format (reading). I appreciate the author's efforts and the publisher's advanced copy.

Was this review helpful?

The Deluge is an epic tome showing where our present climate inaction and divisive political arena could extrapolate to disastrous consequences in only a dozen years or so. Like an epic Black Mirror for climate denial, numerous trends collaborate to halt meaningful action -- including backfiring plots like abortion-style single-issue candidates, Civil Rights-style groups who don't cooperate because they disagree on violence and working within the system or tearing down the system; entrenched corporations and politicians diverting attention and spinning away from real change; and an actor turned religious zealot/kingmaker dominating the airwaves.

All of these and many more influences ebb and flow as the tides rise and plans are made and abandoned, and "last chances" are repeatedly squandered. Markley creates vivid characters, and scatters them across different fields and ideologies; as well as very different backgrounds and roles. This provides a kaleidoscopic view of the issues and how it affects government, activists, industry, and regular people. It's an epic cautionary tale full of sadly plausible extreme actions and catastrophes with both natural and human causes.

Was this review helpful?

I was really excited to read this one when I first heard about it and was so lucky to get an advanced reading copy. However, every time I tried to pick it up nothing was really sticking about it for me. I thought maybe it was the ebook format, so I picked up a physical copy from my library once it was released. But it's become clear to me that that wasn't the issue. I just don't think this is the kind of story that I'm interested in. At least right now.

I think this book still has a lot of merit. I did enjoy the different perspectives we got in the first couple chapters and how the formatting impacted the storytelling. There were even differences in narrative voice (i.e. third-person, second-person, documents, etc). And I do think there's an audience out there for this. It just isn't me

Was this review helpful?

This book is very hard for me to review, therefore I will give the bad and the good.
First, the book was extremely long. It took me quite a while to read it, and I am generally a very fast reader.
Second, it was very political, which of course is mentioned in the description.
Third, it was on a topic I personally don't care for: Climate change.
Next, I detest stories that use made up pronouns for characters, as it is very hard to understand and generally sounds ignorant.
Lastly, there were so many characters that it was hard to keep up and remember everyone, and there was quite a bit of violence.

The story is actually very well written, and the premise is quite fascinating.
Even though there were a lot of characters, they were all pretty well fleshed out and they were all interesting in their own way. There were parts of the story that I loved and kept my interest.
Everything flowed pretty well and it was interesting to see how the characters crossed each other's paths.
All in all a very good book, and definitely worth the read.

Was this review helpful?

Markley’s sprawling, ambitious novel of planetary climate disaster journeys through almost twice the pages of the author’s meandering debut, Ohio.

Various reviewers have lauded its scope and prescience:
“A terrifyingly imagined future, made all the more believable by the real characters in the not so distant past and present.”
“A flowing novel, The Deluge reminded me some of Tolstoy’s and Hugo’s great social novels of the 19th century. Markley’s work is equally powerful, disturbing, even frightening in its depiction of the ultimate planetary crisis.”
“Of course it's relevant and important; climate change is apparently inevitable and we must take heed and be responsible for our habits and our hopefully not the destruction of our planet! That being said, I had difficulty with so much science and I had to go back and re-read quite a bit to fathom all the information.”
“…we witness what happens when greed, power and ignorance lead the planet to the brink of its own extinction. …. This is not a book to read at night before you go to sleep. It is terrifying and will give you nightmares.”

The book is dense, literate, a commitment. The choice is yours.

Was this review helpful?

Climate scientists have warned us for several years that we're past the tipping point; dramatic changes to the climate are inevitable and we can only hope to avoid those changes becoming catastrophic if we take serious measures now. This is the jumping off point for Stephen Markley's near future novel, The Deluge.

Markley interweaves vivid descriptions of known features of our climate crisis- the reasons for more frequent and intense storms, flooding, heat waves, tornadoes and wildfires - into an epic spanning from the late 2020s to 2040. He posits with frightening realism the costs of inaction and how that might accelerate climate change in a novel that is curiously both dystopian and hopeful.

Although his book follows the lives of several characters -- a stealth group of eco-terrorists opposed to her attempts to work for political change, right wing nationalists , craven and idealistic politicians -- it centers on the impact of Kate Morris - a charismatic, but single-minded climate activist who makes her mark but leave personal wreckage in her wake.

The story's message is hardly subtle but the storytelling is compelling. Highly recommend it!

Was this review helpful?

Horrible news... Horrible news everywhere... This is like the Stand but a new age version of it. A dystopia filled with VR goggles, crazy weather, ESG at prime time, and ecoterrorism. It's also near future, so timelines make it sound like horror story. World is unhinged and not sure if anyone knows how to fix things.

To a certain extent, it was like reading news. In between every section, you'll get exactly that: a newspaper page with bunch of dark headlines. Following 6-7 characters from different walks of life, you read about how earth itself becoming inhabitable while people are still being the capitalist themselves.

This is the second time I'm going to reference The Stand, but this book is also a door stopper like it. If you don't have any appetite for dystopia and don't want to follow the news because it's giving you anxiety, don't read this book. But if you are building your own doomsday bunker, this is your jam

Was this review helpful?

As soon as I saw that Stephen King called this a "modern classic" I knew I had to read it. Correction: before I saw King's blurb, I saw the author's name and I remembered the absolutely EPIC masterpiece his debut Ohio was and that was actually why I even looked at this to see King's high praise. I've seen some criticism about this author being long-winded and negatively comparing him to King. In my opinion, this is what has made me love both of Stephen Markley's books. The details are relevant and descriptive in a special way that makes you feel emerged in the story. Make no mistake, this book is dark, depressing, and at times gruesome and violent, with its focus on a near future and the possible devastating effects of climate change and political ineffectiveness to slow the crisis. The story is told through multiple characters' eyes, ranging from a climate scientist to domestic terrorists to a drug addict etc, and eventually something ties their varied stories together. This isn't a story that picks up decades or centuries after the effects of climate change have been wrought on the world. Rather, Markley puts you right in the middle of our current crisis: what is happening to our planet, right now, which so many of us (myself included, most of the time) would prefer to blissfully ignore. In great detail, with astounding clarity, he lays out the science for us. Not many of these flawed characters are very likable but theirs is an extremely frightening and compelling story. These things, also, are why I loved this book.

Was this review helpful?

This is not a book you can read in one, two or even three sittings. It took me weeks. The story spans decades and there is A LOT of information. I almost gave up but pushed through because I loved Markleys book, Ohio. Expect a lot of politics and I do mean a lot. I am not averse to politics but some of the passages are like trudging through wet clay. This is especially true when you first start reading the book. It takes a bit to get to the disaster part but when it does it's rather frightening especially if you've lived in a areas where you've seen mother nature in action. Markley's writing brought back visuals, smells and feelings associated with the disaster.
The imagery can be rather graphic and I was left upset when it came to unnecessary details pertaining to animals death. Expect rape, drug and alcohol abuse and a lot of violence. The book gets really bleak and scary around halfway through especially since the disasters and violence isn't far fetched and one can easily see it happening.

The story is told by many different characters . At first you're a bit lost but it all comes together. Markley has an expansive vocabulary be prepared to look up words. I have never looked up so many words before but they really did add to the story. You probably won't like most of the characters (I didn't) but that's what made the book more interesting because you see them faults and all. There is a lot to get through with this book but the topics broached are incredibly important and if you can get through the excessive politics it's worth the long read.

Was this review helpful?

•You all know I enjoy horror as genre, but this tome of literary fiction has put the fear of god in my soul and had my nerves fried for the entirety if its 880 pages. The Deluge is a masterpiece that everyone should pick up and read immediately. The novel mirrors our real world in the near distant future when climate catastrophe, political extremism, A.I algorithms, and the degradation of racial and social progress has reached its boiling point, causing the end of the world as we know it. Sounding all too familiar with our current world events, The Deluge offers readers a glimpse of what could be if we as human beings on this planet continue on the trajectory of disregarding global warming as an immediate threat and sit idly by.
•The amount of detail and research that had to go into writing the book is beyond impressive. The array of emotions I felt while reading The Deluge was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced when reading any work of fiction. The way Markley used current real world events to spring fictitious, yet believable future outcomes for such events has left me scared and uneasy. I guess that’s the point when writing climate fiction, but no other work I’ve read or consumed has come close to reaching this level of dire urgency for waking the hell up.
•Obviously, the writing is sharp and intelligent, never dry or boring when it comes to the complexities of geopolitics. Rather, Markley plays with the novels format by including pieces from news articles, tweets, and essays to broaden the scope of understanding and creates a vivid picture of the world he has envisioned.
•The character arcs in The Deluge had me in tears. I’m still in shambles. The amount of characters in this book is staggering. At first it was extremely hard for me to understand who was who, but I let go and trusted the process and it really paid off for me.
•I think I’ve found one of my favorite books of all time with The Deluge.

Was this review helpful?

An apocalyptic novel of climate change, but the story begins in 2013. Tony Pietrus, a scientist studying deposits of undersea methane, draws far-reaching conclusions with broad implications for the future of humanity and receives a death threat. His fate will become bound to a divergent cast of characters—a drug addict, a brilliant advertising strategist, a mathematician with a gift for predictive algorithms (but limited ability for human emotional connection), an eco-terrorist with a long-term plan, an actor turned religious zealot, and a charismatic young activist named Kate Morris, who begins a project that will alter the course of the decades to come. Book I (of V) introduces the main cast of characters, and at first it is hard to imagine any connection between them.

Book II leaps forward to 2025, then a few years more to 2028. The situation looks a lot like the present. Climate activists warn about the worsening conditions for the planet, politicians claim to be doing something, and carbon-based industries continue to obstruct. Book III begins in 2030, which finds superstorms becoming increasingly common. The drug addict goes to prison for ignorantly helping with a climate action bombing, and the advertising executive finds her mother after she hung herself during a massive flood.

So it goes. Book IV (Nation of Heat) finds the entire planet beset by elevated temperatures, and Book V begins in 2036. By the time it ends in 2039 the entire planet is in such a horrible state that governments (led by the U.S.) have finally taken strong action to ameliorate (and when possible, to reverse) the causes of climate change. Several of the main characters have died–a realistic result of all of the chaos–and the situation is at least stable, if not hopeful. Much of the action here is scarily predictive: it is not hard to imagine U.S. politics tipping over into an even more exaggerated state. This is a long novel, but it held my interest most of the way. The only exception was the technical discussions, which became increasingly lengthy as the book went on. By the end I found myself skimming them.

Was this review helpful?

The Deluge is a dense, urgent and important work. It's very grim, very dark. When you think it can't get any worse, it does. Starting around the year 2014 and going forward to 2039, we witness what happens when greed, power and ignorance lead the planet to the brink of its own extinction. Famines, floods, fires, species disappearing, heat waves, the ice shelf melting, it's all happening. This is not a book to read at night before you go to sleep. It is terrifying and will give you nightmares.

Reminded of Richard Powers' The Overstory for the disparate chapters and similar themes, Markley employs different styles (memoir, news articles, reports, first person narratives) for these sections, some more successful than others. Sorry Ash, but your sections read like a textbook, even though you were one of my favorite characters.

The book is long. The chapters are long. So long that I had trouble keeping track of who was who when we came back to them hundreds of pages later. There are scientists, politicians, finance types, journalists, activists, eco-terrorists, policy makers, and patsies. Working together (or not) to save the planet before it's too late. A lot happens in these almost 900 pages, and we become invested in the characters and the outcome. So much so that I may have cried a few times. The book gained a lot of momentum and I couldn't put it down when I got to part 5, the final homestretch, with about 25% left to go. The Deluge is a book that will benefit from long uninterrupted stretches of reading (just not at bedtime, because, disaster porn: "this horror has no conclusion"; "this crisis is effectively our eternity" are some of the lighter quotes).

Could it have been shorter? Sure. Could it have been chopped up into two or three separate books? Probably, but without the same impact.

My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC.

Was this review helpful?

Beautifully written, absolutely terrifying. This should be mandatory reading for everyone in government and all climate deniers. I hope we can fix things before they get to this level but it sure seems unlikely.

I grew up in Ohio and Markley definitely gets life in the rust belt. I have to say though, this book was LONG, probably more than necessary. I get that it’s a sweeping dystopian epic but it is likely it would get a bigger audience if cut down by about a third. I look forward to his next book.

Was this review helpful?

I tried very hard to get through this book as I heard the author has a good reputation. I read 6 chapters and finely am stopping. I was initially also interested in this book since it was about Climate Change, something I like to keep up to date about.

However, this book started on Chapter 1 and I was already lost. I felt as though I had picked up a Science Textbook and was reading that. I could not in any way relate to the story. The next chapter was in a completely different style and believe alternated between writing in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Character. It was discussing some youth that had been in the Iraq War. I could follow this chapter even less.

Each chapter would be different and have new characters that I could not keep track of. The writing style would change again. The writing was disjointed and I just found it tedious to try and finish another unreadable for me chapter.

As this book is written, it just is not going to change. I like a much more linear narrative and to get to really relate to specific characters and a story. This truthfully was not going to happen no manner how many pages I read. It is the style of the book and may well work for others. It is very different. I recommend this book if you are interested in trying something such as this, but I am the wrong audience.

Thank you NetGalley, Stephen Markley, and Simon & Schuster for giving me a chance to read this novel.

Was this review helpful?

I'm floored by this book. A sprawling, epic, immersive story told through a mosaic of diverse and intricately woven perspectives, The Deluge is the seminal novel about climate change. I know that this book won't be for everyone - particularly due to its nearly 900-page length - but it certainly was for me. Not only is this the most impactful and effective speculation on what our world will come to if we do nothing about our interrelated environmental and social disasters, but it's a fundamentally human story: about life's hardest and most joyful moments, about sacrifice, about camaraderie, about fighting for what you believe in, about the long arc of justice.

Told over the span of more than 25 years, the book looks at the world's worsening climate crisis through the lens of several different and seemingly unrelated actors: a brash, passionate, outspoken climate activist; a savant data analyst; a single mom-cum-ecoterrorist, and so many more. Following these characters from 2013 to 2040, we see their own evolution against the backdrop of a burning Los Angeles, a drowning Midwest, a record-breaking heat wave in D.C., a global famine, a burgeoning radical right-wing terrorist movement, and so many other crises.

I truly think Markley is a master of his craft. The fact that he's able to spin this tale, a tale that felt so realistic that I wanted to Google the fictional events and read more about their history, told by probably ten rotating characters that each felt distinct and personal, and keep me completely engrossed the entire - THE ENTIRE - time? That is truly impressive.

This is by no means an easy book to read, not just for its length, but for its depressing look into our inevitable planetary future and for some of the truly dark fates that befall our characters. But it's important, urgent, and as applicable to our lives as ever a novel could be. I really hope you read this book.

" [One day my daughter will ask:] 'Was it worth it? Was a raped and murdered world worth it for a few decades of excess? How did you let this happen? You all knew, everyone knew!'" [...] All I'll be able to tell her is, 'Some of us tried, baby. Some of us fought like hell.'"

Was this review helpful?

A novel of monumental proportions. Combining modern day political and sociological events, along with climate change( and the deniers of same) and everyday people, it explores the what might/could/probably will happen if climate and political change does not happen soon.
There are ecological warriors trying to save the planet in very separate ways: one wants to burn oil refineries, the other is trying for political movement to help affect changes, along with teaching people how to grow their own food and such.
There are vastly different political parties. One denies there is a climate problem and one believes but can’t seem to come to a consensus on how to fix it.
And the people, meanwhile, are trying to survive through food shortages, massive storms, floods and massive unrest. All wrapped around a love story.
Terrific book. Scary too.
Highly recommend.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me this ARC.

Was this review helpful?