Title: After the Flood
Author: Kassandra Montag
Genre: Dystopia/Science Fiction
Source: Borrowed (library)
One Sentence Synopsis
After the world is covered in flood water, Myra takes her youngest daughter on a harrowing journey to try and rescue her oldest daughter who was taken by Myra’s husband.
“But I knew that was the kind of hope that betrays. The kind of hope that’s an illusion, that shackles you to your desire. I needed hope built on real possibilities.”
This is a story that explores a lot of tough topics. The entire world has been reduced to a series of archipelagos after a massive flood covers almost all the land. In this new world centered around water, Myra is surviving with her daughter, Pearl, by fishing and trading for goods. Then, one day, Myra discovers that her eldest daughter, Row, has been spotted in an northern colony called The Valley. Row was taken from Myra by her husband right before the worst of the flooding occurred and Myra had lost hope of ever finding her. Now, she embarks on a perilous journey with Pearl to try and get Row back.
I picked this book up solely because of a Booktuber’s recommendation (shout out to Jesse @ Bowties and Books!) and honestly wasn’t sure how well it would sit with me. I didn’t know if the writing style would work for me, if the interesting premise would be executed well, or if I would end up connecting with the characters. Thankfully, I loved this book! I need to say that right up front before I ramble on. This book was incredible!
No book deserves the blurb term “gripping” more than After the Flood. I was hooked from sentence one, page one and I did not escape this book’s gravity until the last word. It has been awhile since I have been so invested in a character’s journey and the reasons behind it. This is a book that has layers and all of them make you think about something uncomfortable. It’s a story about love. It’s a story about hope. And it’s a story about constantly having to make decisions when there is never a truly right decision to make. Every decision is hard and terrible and causes pain and it’s so interesting to watch Myra struggle with them.
Another aspect that helped this book be so fast-paced was the writing and the tone. It was so urgent that you can’t help but tear through the pages to find out what happens next! Which makes sense in a post-apocalyptic world where you’re constantly fighting to survive. The author really manages to convey the constant struggle that Myra and Pearl deal with daily. The plot is excellently paced. Not once did I feel like there was a lag or like things were moving too quickly. It was also incredibly moving. There were several heart-wrenching moments that had me tearing up. There were moments where I had to scan ahead to make sure Myra and Pearl were okay because I was scared for them!
And then there’s the characters. Have you ever read a book where you both identified with and wanted to strangle the main character the entire time?
That was my experience with Myra in After the Flood. I both understood the choices she made and wanted to slap her across the face for those same decisions. Which honestly made her feel incredibly real. I distinctly remember reading about something she had done and her internal thought process behind it, thinking “Well, aren’t you just a callous b*tch…”, and thinking immediately after that “But would I have done anything differently?” Myra is so nuanced and has such depth that I connected with her instantly. And, thankfully, the other characters are equally fleshed out. They aren’t just caricatures of whatever part they are supposed to play, they feel real and it makes reading about they’re trials that much more compelling.
Final thoughts: After the Flood is a fast-paced and thought-provoking journey that grabs you from page one and does not let go. It’s a book about tough decisions and love and, ultimately, hope. It’s rich with an incredible cast of nuanced characters. If you like a book about a quest where people have to make terrible choices, about mother/child relationships, about love in a world that is falling apart… you’re gonna like this one.