Review: The Rift

The Rift
The Rift by Walter Jon Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book by this author I have read, and although it is what has been described as a doorstopper, the scoppe of what he wanted to accomplish needed a big book. I only wish it were longer or that there was a sequel. The lack of threads being tied up, and the rush to try and finish the story towards the end left me slightly dissatisfied. But the rest of the book was amazing in scope, and in depth. He chose a small central cast of characters, and how the successive quakes along the New Madrid Fault Line (which went in 1811, and about 1000 years before that), with earthquakes ranging from 8.9 to 8.3, affected them.

One of the main characters was a female general in charge of the Corp of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division, so she had a great deal of prominence due to the role her agency played. The earthquake destroyed many cities along the Mississippi and further inland along some of the contributing fault lines, altered the course of the river in some areas, and left millions temporarily homeless, without power, telephone service, and even food and shelter. Three other characters stuck out – Jason, a young teen who got separated from his mother and managed to hook up with a man trying to ind his family, as they made their way down the river from Missouri to Louisiana. Brother Frankland, a radio end of times preacher had been stockpiling for years, with food, weapons, and shelter for people to come and gather and await the end, where they would be saved. But he became a tad over zealous in his attempts to “save” everyone. And in contrast, was the sheriff of Spottswood Parrish, a small traditional southern town, where he was a Kleagle for the KKK in his area, and proceeded to fall apart when his son became entangled in a group of hard core fanatics, and was persuaded to set up camps for whites and another one for blacks. The stories intertwine, and everyone suffers in one way or another, as the country is brought to it’s knees when the middle of the US is ripped apart, and commerce and traffic on the river is stopped, the river becomes contaminated, and millions flee. And many die. A good book that could have been great if he had taken the time and space to make sure that the ending was as carefully plotted and planned as the rest of the book. But still worth a read, as it shows the good, the bad and the ugly side of human nature when faced with a crisis, or a change in the power structure.

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