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The Flood by Ian Rankin
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The Flood (1986)

by Ian Rankin

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Title:The Flood
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The Flood by Ian Rankin (1986)

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With echoes of Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD and Golding’s LORD OF THE FLIES mixed with just a hint of a Michael Bay blockbuster thrown in to keep the story moving, THE FLOOD by Davis Sachs is a gripping disaster story that leaves a profound impact on the reader.

THE FLOOD marries an intelligent literary sensibility with taut storytelling. It introduces a variety of unique characters, all well-drawn and interesting, and places them on a derelict cruise ship, cut off from whatever is left of society after a tsunami of biblical proportions wipes out the entire east coast of the United States. Parallels to the flood mythology shared by all ancient cultures are not lost on Sachs who wisely places a professor aboard the Festival of the Winds cruise ship, giving him an able lens through which to place his narrative in a wider philosophical and historical context. A welcome and necessary grounding in what might otherwise be nothing more than a story about carnage.

Rather, this is a book about ideas dressed up as a thriller. Yes, the story grimly embraces the darkest parts of the human experience. Murder, mayhem, savagery and barbarism—all are present here, along with some visceral thrills and brilliant set pieces. However, these are all tableaus; Sachs deploys them with great skill, but the heart of this story is an exploration of the darkest parts of the human experience in a way that manages to transcend almost everything else in the genre, excepting the aforementioned McCarthy. Sachs paints with stark lines and a monochrome pallet of human suffering, but his strokes are deft and true. There’s a heart in this disaster story. Love as well. Not the sloppy Hollywood variety, but the real, meaningful, moving sort.

I read once that authors don’t often write of the intensity of parental love because it scares them. Also because it scares their readers. THE ROAD and THE FLOOD are two novels that tread these dangerous waters and manage to keep their heads afloat. Parts of THE FLOOD are painful to read; doubly so if one happens to be a parent of a young child. However, the narrative thread that prevents THE FLOOD from becoming merely another grim tale of death and dying is that of the extreme, imperfect, and achingly beautiful love of a single man for a single boy. It’s gripping stuff, if you can handle it. THE FLOOD isn’t a book to be taken lightly. It is, however, eminently readable. The prose sings. The dialog has the natural move and flow of real conversion.

Don’t come to THE FLOOD to have your regard for the human race restored. Do come with the expectation that you will be asked to look at yourself and society at large with a critical eye. To ask yourself just how far are you really from straying off the civilized path. How close are you to the great precipice, internal or external? In a society overwhelmed with zombie story clones that address these same questions with all the subtlety of a chainsaw, Sachs has managed to provide a deft, meaningful exploration worthy of a careful reading.

A hearty 5 out of 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of THE FLOOD in exchange for this review. I received no other form of compensation. ( )
  nmbeauchamp | May 26, 2015 |
I love reading first novels. They are usually the ones the author has toiled on for years, honed, sent out with the biggest chunk of the Writer's heart. Ian Rankin's first novel "the Flood" is well worth a read. In this reprinting, issued after the author's phenomenal success as a mystery writer, you can see the bones of the confident author to come.
It's a story of prejudice and secrets and moods and not truly a mystery (but whoever said mystery writers can only write mysteries?), but more a tale of the evils men and women do in a small town. It starts off slowly, but I couldn't put it down right away and I got sucked in more and more as I read. Rankin's world is dark, with little redemption. Characters survive.
But it's all completely lovely and will stay with me a long time, destined for my collection of first novels. Read it. It will give you a view of how it all began. ( )
  Dabble58 | May 26, 2014 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2190667.html

This is the first book Ian Rankin wrote. There isn't really a mystery here - it's just a story of adolescence and twisted family dynamics in small-town Fife, with both long-buried and more recent sexual secrets taking their toll on those who have to keep them. I actually found the resolution a bit too easy, but the rest of it shows a great story-teller in the making. ( )
  nwhyte | Oct 28, 2013 |
It is a simply story about a mother and her boy written by Rankin about a mining town where coal pits die, leaving the town on brink of unemployment. It is story of a family how it is impacted. There is a mystery at the center of the book but you can guess when part two ends.

This was Ian Rankin's first published novel, before he began his Inspector Rebus series. ( )
  poonamsharma | Apr 6, 2013 |
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Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can the floods drown it.
 - Song of Songs
All one's inventions are true.
- Flaubert
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For my father and mother
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When Mary Miller was ten years old and not yet a witch, and Carsden was still a thriving mining village, she would watch her brother Tom playing football in the park with his friends.
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This is Ian Rankin's first ever novel, now re-published with a brand-new introduction. 'The Flood' is both a coming-of-age novel and an amazing portrait of a time and place.

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