The Deluge, by Stephen Markley

mistylyn's review against another edition

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When I sat down to pen this review, I found myself somewhat stymied. Did I enjoy the book? Honestly, not so much. I am a post-apocalyptic fan and have stepped into some fairly treacherous trenches as far as the genre is concerned. At first blush, I assumed that this would be another in an extensive line of end-of-the-world fluff. Consider me schooled. This was a terrifying long haul journey through years of ignored climate change and devastating consequences, as author Stephen Markley pushes his foot on the gas and belts through intersecting narratives that, at their heart, document the earth’s demise. Did I mention it was terrifying? Dust bowl conditions, widespread global flooding and never before seen high temperatures take their toll on life as we know it and infect the very fabric of what it is to be human.

As for the quality of Markley’s writing, well that depends upon the criteria to which you hold the piece accountable. At just under 1,000 pages, it takes determination and patience to wade through the dense text in search of that pullable thread. It’s definitely there, but to find it requires wading though page after page of extraneous “stuff”. The snapshot narratives, interspersed with news stories, press releases and shared memos, are all arranged in a chronological(ish) format that deviates at will and the bemusement of the speaker-of-the-moment. It feels at times that the reader is stuck tumbling in the wheel that must never stop spinning in Markley’s head, as both the left and right are eviscerated and exposed for their over-sold dog and pony shows that amount to absolutely nothing in terms of meaningful change. The research behind these pages must be measurable only in mountains.

The author introduces an almost unwieldy cast of characters to deliver his warning—characters who cross paths then veer in distinctly different directions, though to eliminate even one would tear at the integrity of the story being told. Perhaps, as mentioned previously, making more judicious use of the minutiae would have made the text more approachable to the masses who need to read it. Often I’ve complained of other books that an author chooses either breadth or depth, one often at the peril of the other. Here, Markley makes no such concessions, insisting on tiny details, caught beneath a widely cast net, to the final page.

With all of that said, clearly exposing my prejudice for easy beach reads, this is a book that is of great import and a must read eye-opener for everyone—regardless of the tenacity one may have to muster to do so. Above all, Markley consistently drives home the urgency of our attention and, most importantly, our ACTION, before it’s too late to address and reverse the incomprehensible damage we are inflicting upon our world.

I believe in the not so distant future, we will look back at this cautionary tale and hail Markley a prophet, though of our successes or failures lies at the crux of the action he is able to mobilize.

Thanks to Simon and Shuster and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC for review. Publication is set for January 10, 2023. The sooner the better.

invisiblemonster's review

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challenging dark informative reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


It’s full of captivating ideas and but there are too many characters in a too long book. You’d think with the length here I would care more about these people and what happens, but I just didn’t. That was a bummer. 

jonathangolding_books's review

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adventurous challenging dark emotional informative reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


5 huge stars no other option. This is literature at its finest 

lizzyzo's review

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Ohio by Stephen Markley was an incredible commentary on the generation who came of age in the post-9/11 era, so I was very interested in reading what he had to say on climate change. The idea of multiple storylines, a massive cast of characters, pre-apocalyptic discussions, the interconnection between politics and money, and a snapshot of what could be in store for all of us was something I couldn’t miss.
How to describe this book? Essentially (and this is very much a summary) a bunch (5-10) of seemingly unrelated people are all dealing with climate change in different ways, from a recovering drug addict making terrible choices he has no idea was put into play by people with much more power than him to a passionate young woman determined to leave it all on the field as she single-handedly changes the conversation and so many more. An actor turned religious zealot. A single mom trying to change things on her terms. A marketing professional. Politicians. Masters of the Universe. And so many more. This is a huge cast and perhaps it didn’t come through in my ARC, but a cast of characters would have been exceptionally helpful as I read my way through this book.
This is a huge book—it clocks in just under 1,000 pages and honestly could have lost a few hundred pages and still had a significant impact on the reader. This book is a warning that we should all heed, and it probably shouts its warning with alarming accuracy. Maybe it’s because I’m from DC but seeing how the politics is corrupted by lobbying groups, how climate change is continually ignored because of profit margins and how those things are interrelated was one of the most interesting parts of this book—and most depressing. Markley does an incredible job of taking recent events (Covid-19, the January 6 attempted coup) and uses them as a jumping-off point for what he sees could happen. Death, destruction, economic collapse, fanaticism, starvation, rising sea levels, super storms, massive wildfires, intrigue, betrayal—this book has it all. And it’s really depressing.
As I compost and teach my kids to recycle, this book hammers the point that it’s not what you or I do that will stop the inevitable—it’s those in positions of power who count dollars more than decency. What does it matter if I bring my batteries to the hard-to-recycle event if we’re still using coal? What does it matter if I have an electric car when we’re still reliant on gas and oil? What does it matter if we march and raise our protest signs if the people who could make the changes would rather increase their wealth? Markley’s book shows us that a few determined people with bold, impassioned ideas might make a difference, but the end is coming, it’s closer than we think, and this whole thing is going out with bang, not a whimper. It’s up to us NOW, he’s telling us, to stop this while we can.
Many thanks to the publisher for this Advance Reader’s Copy.