There are a lot of stories about how the rain started. The thing that always comes to mind first isn’t the how though, it’s the how much. Russell still does the math too: 15, 5,400, and 8,550. 15 inches a day, 5,400 a year, and 8,550 feet since the start. We have no idea if it’s accurate. But it’s important to think about it, he says, because it reminds us to keep moving. I’m Tanner. Russell plucked me from the rain when I was two.
Fourteen years ago we left Philadelphia. As the water rose, we moved west, hoping the elevation would keep us warm and dry. Pittsburg, Indianapolis, Sioux Falls, Rapid City. Now we’re stranded on the islands in Wyoming. Russell thinks they used to be the Bighorn mountains. But we can’t go back now. There’s no warm and there’s no dry anymore. Just a rumor about a place where it isn't raining. So we’re going to try to make it—520 miles south to Leadville. But we can’t drift east, the Great Plains have become waterspout alley, a raging tomb of moving water. Together we push on, surviving, heading to Leadville. But something is wrong with him now. He says it’s nothing. But his breathing doesn’t sound that way.
Exposure, pruned hands, and infection. But since, Rapid City, it’s the face eaters too. And the crack in the canoe that’s growing. And the ice I think I see on the water. Russell thinks it’s my imagination. We cling to the last strips of the veneer. And each other.
I liked the sound of the plot for the book. A man and a girl try to survive together in a world flooded by many years of continual rain, trying to find a legendary town where the ground is high and the rain has stopped. They are tracked by face eaters, humans who are cannibals and want to eat other survivors to stay alive. With a sinking canoe and dwindling supplies, life is getting grim.
There is no real character development in the book. The two heroes barely speak to each other in the present or interact with each other to make you warm to them and their plight. Instead the author just tells us about things. We are told that Russell saves her. We are told that Russell educated her about how life used to be. We are told briefly of places they stayed. But we never SEE anything! We are never shown anything to draw us into their adventures. I found myself feeling as if I was reading a report about two strangers written by someone who never knew or cared about them. The thing that really annoyed me was her endless droning on about the veneer, a concept that made no sense to me and I had no interest in the countless times that she went on about it.
The book was just one long narrative which made the story drag. A lot of it talked about past events which seemed to be emotionless info dumps. It talks of how happy they were on a big cruiser but you never feel invested in the disaster that followed and you don't feel anything for the people that they lost. There was no detail about that disaster which was a pity. It could have been covered in a dream that she was having where the reader gets to see and feel what happens instead of just being blandly told about it. We only get a few bits about that boat, usually just the rumours that the passengers exchanged and then we get told the hurricane came, they fought over life boats and that is all the detail we get. It is like one long monologue about the places that they have visited and what we saw there, but there is little detail of interest and no emotion in the writing at all.
The period set in the present should have been more interesting but it was not. They are being tailed by cannibals who want to take their supplies and kill them, but the lack of emotion in the writing meant that there was no tension building or scary moments. It was all described in that same kind of dull monotone that goes right through the story. There was no excitement or feeling of danger and it was just a bit dull. The author never swept me up in the story or got me to feel anything for his characters so I was never invested in it.
I found reading this to be more of a chore than a pleasure to be honest and I certainly will not be reading on with the rest of this series. It is disappointing because I have read some really good short stories by this author.