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The Deluge

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This book is not microwave popcorn. It’s fine dining.

An epic story that is as beautifully written as it is an intellectualized look over the horizon. It’s easy to see that the author either researched the topic or had extensive knowledge. The hard work shows in how fully developed the characters and the story are.

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Stephen Markley's THE DELUGE is that rarest of wonderful stories: well-wrought plot involving countries, politics, and urgent issues focused on an individual scientist attempting to make sense of terrible data indicating the end of life as we know it. With a death threat hanging over him, scientist Tony Pietrus connects with an unlikely band of allies to save the world from itself. The story was a propulsive, energizing read, reminding me of the best of Michael Crichton, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov in weaving science and imperfect peop[e. This was the kind of story where I dove in and emerged hours later, feeling like I'd been on an epic ride. I received a copy of this book and these opinions are my own, unbiased thoughts.

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Stephen Markley's "The Deluge" is an interesting novel that blends traditional fantasy/scifi with grounded characters and plot points. It's quite the tome at nearly 900 pages, but if you're a fan of modern-ish epic fiction like "The Stand," you'll enjoy this.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC of this book for my honest review.

Stephen Markley's OHIO is one of those rare books that I can recommend to almost anyone and be sure that they'll come away happy. Markley's tale of small town, intertwined lives felt both intimate and universal in a way that precious few books do. Simply put, it's one of my favorite books ever.

When I got a chance to read an advance copy of Markley's new book, THE DELUGE, I jumped at it. But how does THE DELUGE stack up to OHIO? Is it truly "a modern classic" as Stephen King calls it? Let's find out.

If OHIO was intimate and claustrophobic, then THE DELUGE is epic and expansive. Markley explodes the small town setting of his previous book and showcases his considerable talent.

I hesitate to use the term "climate fiction" because of all the political and ideological baggage that comes with global warming, but the reader has to know what this book is when they dig in: An unrelenting Rube Goldberg machine of bad decisions, unintended consequences, and blatant disregard.

THE DELUGE forecasts the social breakdown before the end of the world. In the book, this is brought on by a series of climate events both catastrophic and stealthily incremental. But the genius of this book isn't that he bashes you over the head with climate change propaganda and converts you. It's that the climate disasters act to shine a light on cracks in the system and society that we can see widening every time we turn on the TV or read the news. It's a book more about how society breaks as much as anything.

To show us this, Markley employs a core group of characters, each with their own stories told in alternating chapters that (like OHIO) sometimes overlap in unexpected but intelligent ways.

•A prickly scientist who's burned bridges and alienated himself from most everyone in his life.
•A young, brash, and often selfish activist that is more than happy to bulldoze those in her way
•A washed up actor turned religious zealot and presidential candidate
•A drug addict who tries to do right but is in a constant battle with his demons and surroundings
•A band of underground climate activists who take increasingly extreme measures to upend the system.
•An advertising strategist feeling her way through the upper echelon of society after growing up in small town Iowa

There are people to root for and people to hate, but Markley is exceptional at humanizing his characters, whether in OHIO, THE DELUGE, or in his work as a writer for the outstanding Hulu show Only Murders in the Building. You can always see how characters got to the place they are and, more impressively, how they can be the person they were meant to be.

It's hard for me to imagine a better start to a literary career. In OHIO, Markley wrote a story of a town, with all it's troublemakers and tragedies. Here, he takes on the world in a series of character vignettes, news reports, narrative asides, and white hot fever dreams of storytelling that takes the reader to the year 2039. Some will call this a dystopian novel but, more often than not, books in that genre feel forced or preachy. This book is not that.

It's a doorstopper at almost 900 pages, an epic tragedy that shows just how easy it is for life to fall apart and how hard it can be to put it all back together. It's a literary deluge worthy of its title, just as likely to drown you as it is to life you up. It's a story of hubris and hope, those things that life is made of. It's a masterpiece.

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I had read Ohio, so I was excited to hear about the publication of a new novel. However, I unfortunately had a hard time getting into the novel and I did not find the premise very believable

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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC of this book for my honest review.

After reading the description of this book, I was really intrigued and was excited to read. However, I really struggled with this book. It was overly descriptive and had so many subplots that I got lost. I am glad other people enjoyed it since it is a beast of a work.

I would have much preferred this in two books or even a series as opposed to everything stuffed into one book.

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I was very interested to read this book--the description sounded interesting and Stephen King gave it a really positive blurb. I have discovered other books and authors from his recommendations so I jumped into reading this book.

The opening is very dense scientific writing, both fascinating and scary. Shortly after this introduction that sucks you in, the reader is introduced to so many characters that it is hard to keep straight. Some chapters are told in first person, others in third person and one really creepy dude in second person. It is clear that there will be some intersection and overlap between characters but there is so much jumping around that not only is it hard to keep track but hard to form a connection. Most of these characters are unlikable even if their aims are pure.

There is so much in this book that did not need to be there. I made it 40% and couldn't keep going as many of these chapters are so long and so boring. It is clear that the author REALLY knows his stuff about politics and climate science but they could have easily cut a third of the pages and not lost anything important. I found myself skimming a lot which is a sign that I need to set it down.

It isn't often that I do not finish a book, especially one that NetGalley was kind enough to provide to me free in exchange for honest feedback. I have read a number of other rave reviews so maybe it is just me but a tighter and more focused story would have been more impactful for me as a reader.

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Long and complex book.

The writing is astonishing. Every character and chapter has a different voice. Chapters deemed articles are written in the style of the publication. Stephen Markley has a gift for certain. If politics and environmental literature are in your wheelhouse this book is definitely for you- but it is not for the cautious reader nor for the casual reader. It is a commitment.

Every time I got frustrated with the length something very interesting seemed to occur in the storyline so I kept going, and was pulled deeper into the story.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity through NetGalley to review this release.

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4.5 stars. This is a sprawling, ambitious epic, ranging from 2013 until almost 2040. It is a terrifying story of the devastation climate change could bring, yet somehow manages to end on a note of hope (still can't totally explain how that worked out). This is a long book (approximately 900 pages), with long chapters. There are many characters (other reviews complain they are hard to keep straight - I didn't have that issue at all), but somehow their stories all dovetail before the end of the novel. This was such a compelling read, even as more and more disturbing events occurred within the novel. I would not call this novel post-apocalyptic so much as a dire warning of what could come.

"In the first decades of the 21st century, the world is convulsing, its governments mired in gridlock while a patient but unrelenting ecological crisis looms. America is in upheaval, battered by violent weather and extreme politics. In California in 2013, Tony Pietrus, a scientist studying deposits of undersea methane, receives a death threat. His fate will become bound to a stunning cast of characters—a broken drug addict, a star advertising strategist, a neurodivergent mathematician, a cunning eco-terrorist, an actor turned religious zealot, and a brazen young activist named Kate Morris, who, in the mountains of Wyoming, begins a project that will alter the course of the decades to come.

From the Gulf Coast to Los Angeles, the Midwest to Washington, DC, their intertwined odysseys unfold against a stark backdrop of accelerating chaos as they summon courage, galvanize a nation, fall to their own fear, and find wild hope in the face of staggering odds. As their stories hurtle toward a spectacular climax, each faces a reckoning: what will they sacrifice to salvage humanity’s last chance at a future?"

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the free ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.

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Thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for an ARC of the book.
I began reading this dystopia climate change novel just prior to the holidays and it is a complicated but fascinating read full of vividly drawn characters (terrifyingly realistic) as well.
This is not a book to breeze through at nearly 1000 pages.
Bottom line: I will purchase a hard copy of the book and not race through it just to complete it before publication date when it disappears from my shelf at Net Galley.
I am on page 150 at this point and will give it a thorough review on Goodreads upon completion.

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I read a number of reviews before requesting and finally reading The Deluge. The title describes the experience of reading the first very long book I've opened since 2019 and readers are obviously divided. Being a fatalist, I am an ideal reader. I'd suggest trying it on Kindle with the x ray feature for emergencies.

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I found this read a little confusing and hard to follow with all of the jumping around - to be fair though, I do not often read for solid blocks of time, but for an hour here or there, so my reading habits may have contributed to this. I did enjoy the story when I was able to piece it together.

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I don't have adequate words to describe this force of a book. The way the characters weaved in and out of each other's life was jaw dropping. This will be a book of the year pick! It was epic storytelling at it's finest.

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The Deluge is one of the most terrifying books I've ever read. Why? Because it shows in no uncertain terms what's just around the bend of the path we're currently on and let me tell you, you'll want to run the other way.

Spanning nearly 1000 pages and more than 3 decades of U.S. civilization (2013-2040) <i>The Deluge</i> is an epic speculative CliFi dystopia following a cast of characters who intersect at various times and in various ways as they navigate the fallout of climate change, the beginnings of which we're already seeing (was it a negative 30 degree Christmas for you this year? Because it was in Ohio. A week later it's 60 degrees in January. That.) the end of which we won't live to see. The cast includes scientists, activists, ecoterrorists, politicians, drug addicts, zealots, Influencers, Wall Streeters, the 1%, the 99%, as they navigate droughts, disease, war, floods, political polarization and inaction, militias, famine, fires, corporatization, rampant inequality, religious fanaticism, demagogues, denialism, and more.

Impressive in scope alone, The Deluge is also well researched and crafted with developed characters and remarkably believable speculative elements. I know it's nearly 1000 pages and that's going to be a non-starter for some, but I was utterly captivated and fully immersed the entire time. The pages flew by. I finished reading several weeks ago and I can't stop thinking about it. Markley has penned a new iteration of the Great American Novel.

Disturbing, urgent, prescient. Terrifyingly, Markley has pointed out in the decade he spent writing The Deluge, which he began in 2012, some of the speculative plot points have already come to pass. I dare you to read this book with indifference.

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There’s nothing like a really big book to recommit you to a reading goal.

Having read Stephen Markley’s “Ohio,” I was thrilled to download his follow up, “The Deluge,” ahead of publication (January 10). Having neglected to look up how long “The Deluge” is, I forged ahead on my iPad, convinced at some point I’d make significant progress. It wasn’t until about two weeks in and having barely made a dent that I actually checked it out.

968 pages. Oof. But honestly? So damn good.

Like any long read, it takes a while for the narrative to pick up steam. A good author takes his or her time to flesh out character arcs and storylines, and there are more than a handful here in Markley’s dystopian vision of the next two decades in America.

And it’s going to keep me up at night for the foreseeable future. Or at least every time there’s a weather event.

With “Ohio,” Markley sets his sights squarely on the opioid crisis — with “The Deluge,” it’s damn near everything else, with a heavy emphasis on the ongoing climate crisis. Mix in a lot of dangerous white nationalists, a former actor turned religious leader, Big Oil corporate greed, the terrifying evolution of AI, people trying to escape their pasts and science that’ll scare the pants off you, and you’ll discover exactly why Markley needed this much paper to do the story justice.

The breadth and depth of Markley’s cast of characters is ambitious. If I tried to cover them all, I’d likely be typing into tomorrow, but within each subplot, all loosely connected, you’ll find someone to cheer for and someone that’ll haunt your nightmares. The complexity of character makeup mirrors the theme of the book. If there is a book club out there that wants to take it on, you’ll have no problem whatsoever spending multiple meetings breaking down the enigma that is Kate Morris. Or the devastating journey of Keeper. Or the brutal lines that people will or will not cross to achieve their goal.

I’m not going to lie — “The Deluge” is anxiety-triggering if for no other reason than the America that Markley serves up feels like it should be science fiction until you realize it’s not really that far from the truth. Our collective blind eye to the climate crisis, increasing weather events, religious fanaticism, government leaders that have no business leading anything … it’s all very real. And scary. But if the fictional crises in this book are possible, so then is the commitment to making change happen, whether it be through science, activism or a commitment to both, that we see Markley’s characters undertake.

That said, for the panic attacks you risk reading this, the emotional satisfaction that comes from rich storytelling and characters you grow to care about so much so that your heart will break if something untoward happens is SO WORTH IT. It was like reading a Jane Smiley trilogy all at once, but this was, hands down, my favorite book this year.

“The Deluge” is scheduled to be released January 10 — don’t miss it.

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The book starts by giving off a vibe that’ll be a long crossover between “The Day After Tomorrow” & “Don’t Look Up.” In all honesty it took me several weeks to reach the 30% mark and I was about to DNF it when things picked up a bit, then from there I became invested in some of the characters just to have to go through a whole cast of other characters I didn’t care about, making the story jarring and disjointed. Speaking of which, it seems the author was trying to do an experiment and see how many different POVs, tenses and hot button issues he could fit in a go — there’s even a 2nd person POV rapist in there.
I like that when it comes to politics at least he shows both sides of the aisle are one and the same when we comes down to the nitty-gritty of it all.
Two things were missing:
- After eluding everyone for so long, Shane deserved a better resolution.
- What was in the document Coral gave to Matt and he burned? Did he realize Lucy and Shane were the same person? Or was it that Kate knew at least one person in 6Degrees? Or was it about the abortion she confessed to Jackie but never told him? Something else entirely? Way to piss this reader off, man.

Thank you NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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It's a bold move to open a novel about climate change with a science dense first chapter that was, for me at least, confusing. Markley's treatise on climate change, politics and the lack of humanity among humans takes a lot of patience. And more patience than I had. I liked that we switch characters from chapter to chapter and move forward in time because some of them are more accessible than others. However, this is a big big book that never really captured my imagination. I DNF but I'm keeping it by my side to read over time. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. I may be the odd one out so recommend for fans of literary fiction.

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The Deluge is a warning of a possible future for the human species. As the planet warms, catastrophic storms and sea level rise will cause massive disruption of human society. People will react in various ways. Some will try to write legislation to stop adding carbon into the atmosphere. Some will become activists and try to influence change. Others will use more violent methods. All are characters in this book.

The book is very long, so be prepared for a lengthy read. There are also a lot of characters to sort out. Once you’ve gotten more of their details, you begin to see how they interrelate. Each character is told in their own voice. Most are third person accounts. One is told in second person point of view. So, the reader will begin to recognize the various characters by their narrative voice as well as their actions and interactions. It’s an interesting writing technique. The story is also told via news stories and pages of news clippings from various sources (all fictional). One neurodivergent character writes long, detailed memos to a politician. Some of the characters encounter the stories of the others in various ways. I liked this technique of weaving so many story elements together in a variety of ways. It made things more interesting. It also keeps the reader on their toes. It also lends credibility and believability to the tale.

The background has many climatic events happening. Some characters are affected directly, and some read about it in news stories, etc. The climatic events begin moderately, such as a large dust storm. From there, they begin to escalate until a huge hurricane wipes out North Carolina. These events occur over a span of about 30-40 years, beginning in the early 2010’s and ending up near 2040. The idea was to show how changes to the global temperature will begin to show up as these large-scale disastrous climatological events that affect masses of people. Climate refugees begin to show up. Starvation is widespread. States close off their borders. Economic collapse happens. The coastal cities begin to be lost to sea level rise. The list of dramatic events is long and should be a wakeup call. Although this is fiction, these are things that could possibly exist in our future. The entire book is a dire warning, set in a fictional world.

Dystopian is one way to describe this. The surveillance state that is shown in the near future is sobering. I’d also add that it hit too close to reality in a lot of ways. As a reader, I found it hard to ignore that some of these things have already begun to occur. The characters all rang true for me, as did all the political wrangling that had to happen in order to try to pass legislation. Even when it meant that the legislation could literally save the world, the political system still had to go through its machinations to get it done. It was too lifelike to be regarded as fiction. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe this is more a commentary on where we are at as a society. It asks the question, what would we give up in order to save our planet? How much would an individual be willing to sacrifice to make the planet habitable for human beings into the future? Some of the characters make the ultimate sacrifice. It should make us all think, what is the cost of a habitable world? What are we leaving for our children and grandchildren? This book will change your life. You will be thinking about it a long time after you turn the last page and put it down.

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The Deluge takes place in the near future – a future in our lifetime for most of us. We have continued to do too little too late to check the progress of climate change and it has reached a tipping point with catastrophic consequences. Political dysfunction and polarization has brought extremism to the boiling point. It’s a mess and the wheels are coming off the train. And a scientist makes a discovery with huge implications for the climate at the same time he receives a death threat, possible exposing him to anthrax. What follows is a far too realistic, far too possible a future and it’s terrifying.

The construction of The Deluge reminded me of Ohio at first. It begins with all these characters who are seemingly unrelated. I think of the characters are being in a sort of whirlpool, at the beginning they are all floating around in the very separate lives, doing science, doing drugs, doing activism, and doing crime. As the story moves forward, connections begin to appear and they come closer and closer until they are on a a faster and faster, tighter and tighter spiral toward catastrophe.

The Deluge presumes we don’t’ do very much about climate change, gridlock and partisan polarization seeming to put us on a trajectory toward climate disaster. Then, in a sort of Nixon-Going-To-China moment, a Republican is elected on a pledge to address climate change. Of course, the petrochemical lobby finds a willing and ingenious marketer who comes up with a strategy to derail the bill.

Meanwhile, a scientist studying underwater methane gets a death threat and an anthrax scare, an addict wins a small lottery jackpot and goes on a real bender, a guy meets the love of his life on a summer job and takes off with her for a wild ride of a life, a mathematician who is neurodivergent disappoints his parents by using his talent in sports betting, a woman meets a famous actor and she spends the night with him. A man and a woman have breakfast in a diner and discuss the Iraq War. It all sounds so mundane, but it isn’t.

After the first part, we begin to see a few more connections as their lives start to converge. Much of the story is focused on climate change. They are dealing with the effects of rising sea levels and extreme weather. It’s hard to describe The Deluge. It is one possible future, a future made likely by our continuing reliance on gas and oil. It is the scariest book I can recall reading. Stephen King has nothing on Stephen Markley for creating a nightmarish world and tossing us in it. It’s scary because it is possible, even probable.

I liked The Deluge even though it is scary and depressing and all to possible. As in Ohio, the narrative language is lush and powerful. He is too good a writer to have all the characters have the same felicity with language and does a remarkable job of writing in the voice of his various characters. One weakness, though, is Ashir, the mathematician. Markley wrote him as neurodivergent. I suppose that was one way to excuse his didactic voice. Some of his chapters feel like white papers. Bur, as a reader, when I feel like I am being preached at, I feel hostile. That is my biggest complaint with the book, that there is this didactic thread that runs through it.

I understand. The time to act on climate has passed again and again and it’s nearing the point of no return. It’s urgent, the most important issue we face. And we just go through life in a sort of la-di-denial of reality. However, I think the rest of the book is more persuasive than the pedantry of Ashir’s chapters. But if you can read this book without feeling the urgency of the climate crisis, what’s wrong with you?

The Deluge will be out on January 10th. I received an e-galley and ARC from the publisher through Shelf Awareness and NetGalley.

The Deluge at Simon & Schuster
Ohio review
Stephen Markley author site

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4 stars / This review will be posted on today.

Buckle your seatbelt, because this is one long-winding road to the end. It’s hard to even summarize this novel, somewhat dystopian, futuristic, foreboding. It’s an epic, over 900 pages, and it’s a challenging one at that. But that being said, Markley does have a gift with words. He is able to make paragraphs so utterly beautiful.

This story is about the future of our planet, the future of our people, and our will to survive. The climate crisis has been known for decades, yet industry and politics have kept us from doing what’s necessary to curtail climate change. Markley tackles the subject of climate change while also showing the very dark side of our political clime in this country.

There are a handful of key players - Kate Morris, Ashir al-Hasan, Tony Pietrus, Shane Acosta. Then there is a large group of secondary players, some who at times get more attention than the key players. The protagonist is our world, the antagonist, the human race. Keeping up with the players is the important focus, as you must keep track of who is who to know what is happening in the story.

Moments in the story are heart-pounding, some are like a slow moving stream. And while it took me 21 days to finish this novel (might be a record for me!) I am so happy to have stuck with it. In many ways it is a cautionary tale of our world today and the future if we don’t start thinking about the ramifications of our lifestyles.

The final chapter of the novel was almost breathtaking. No spoilers, but it is worth plowing through to the end.

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