Book Review: Above the Ether: A Novel by Eric Barnes

Above the Ether: A Novel by Eric Barnes
My rating:  🌟🌟🌟🌟(4 stars)
Publisher: Arcade (June 2019)

To say that I'm a climate fiction fan never sounds quite right to me because they're usually disastrous human extinction events that completely untether modern civilizations and I find them fairly terrifying, but I am drawn to them. So when I saw this, I knew I needed to read it.

I have to admit that it was actually hard to read quickly because it was so vivid even though the prose was stark. I'd never have expected that dandelions could be expressed as something so suffocating and relentless. I needed to put this down a few times but it stayed in my mind & pulled me back. Once finished, I needed a day to think about what I wanted to say about it.

The dire situation presaged an ever closer, ever inescapable cataclysm and people were simply existing in it with varying levels of acknowledgement. Each of the characters followed are also not just dealing with the environmental changes, they're dealing with fractured families, estranged or missing relatives, financial insecurities, loneliness, isolation and for one, in particular, exercising the power they have over those who are desperate.

This is my first read by Barnes and I'd read another. I'll likely have to pick up his The City Where We Once Lived as I want to know what happens next. Or rather, I need to know. Recommended.

Many thanks to the publisher for an Advanced Review Copy.

Summary: The prequel to Eric Barnes's acclaimed novel The City Where We Once Lived, Above the Ether, follows six sets of characters moving through a landscape and a country just beginning to show the signs of cataclysmic change. A father and his young children fleeing a tsunami after a massive earthquake in the Gulf. A woman and her husband punishing themselves without relent for the loss of both their sons to addiction, while wildfires slowly burn closer to their family home. A brilliant investor, assessing opportunity in the risk to crops, homes, cities, industries, and infrastructure, working in the silent comfort of her office sixty floors up in the scorching air. A doctor and his wife stuck in a refugee camp for immigrants crossing the southern border. Two young men working the rides in a roadside carnival, one escaping a brutal past, the other a racist present. The manager of a chain of nondescript fast-food restaurants.
While every night the news alternates images of tsunami destruction with the baseball scores, the characters converge on a city where the forces of change have already broken—a city half abandoned, with one part left to be scavenged as the levee system protecting it slowly fails—until, in their vehicles on the highway that runs through it, they witness the approach of what looks to be just one more violent storm.

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