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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  1,166 ratings  ·  276 reviews
It had been raining for weeks. Maybe months. He had forgotten the last day that it hadn't rained, when the storms gave way to the pale blue of the Gulf sky, when the birds flew and the clouds were white and sunshine glistened across the drenched land.

Following years of catastrophic hurricanes, the Gulf Coast--stretching from the Florida panhandle to the western Louisiana b
Hardcover, 333 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Simon & Schuster
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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James Thane
This is a post-apocalyptic tale that will remind many readers of Cormac McCarthy's book, The Road. It's set in a not too far-distant future when, presumably because of climate change, the Gulf Coast from Florida across to Texas has become a soggy, desolate area of constant rain and storms where the sun never shines. Katrina-like hurricanes have repeatedly devastated the region to the point where rebuilding no longer makes any sense.

Neither does living there, and so the government has drawn a lin
Bleak skies where the sun is destined never to shine again. Torrential rain, cold and pounding and relentless. Kudzu creeping and growing, its tendrils evolving into thick, twisted arms smothering everything in its path. Buildings are sinking into the very ground. The horror of never being warm and dry is chilling.

The lower portion of the country has been condemned, with most people evacuated by the government, the ones who refuse to leave their homes are left to their own devices. A line is dr
Out Today!
Read My Interview with this great new voice

One word placed carefully after the other with heartfelt necessity, sentences that keep you reading and fully immerse you into the scene with eery realistic imagery, you feel the desolation, the solitude, the love, and the loss.
This author has a potent and poetic prose, repeating and orchestrating a fine symphony, a cadence of reflections on world gone topsy turvy and the lost, all th
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
2.5 stars

This book probably deserves 3 stars for the quality of the writing, but I found it so bleak and depressing, I rounded down to 2 stars. I could read it only in small doses, and my reaction to the plot and characters wasn't so much sadness as frustration.

This novel has been compared to McCarthy's The Road, a fairly apt comparison. The writing style, particularly, is resonant of McCarthy: all introspection and imagery.

Set in the Gulf area of the United States, Rivers paints a postapocaly
First the disclaimer: Michael Farris Smith is my colleague in creative writing at Mississippi University for Women. Of course, I'm going to like his book! However, even I was surprised by it. Not that I would expect anything less than a good read, but Rivers is much more than a good read. Michael's prose is a delight. His characters are fresh and at times haunting. He weaves back and forth in time to show us a dystopian future that is all too real juxtaposed with a much more normal and at times ...more
Jordan Anderson
I'm a huge sucker for post apocalyptic stories. Where I got this desire from, I don't know, but the thought of life, teetering on the edge of oblivion, with only the most resourceful and hard-core survivors left, has always appealed to me. I suppose that makes perfect sense as to why I immediately fell in love with "Rivers".

I get that it's not a true "PA" novel, so don't harass me about that, but "Rivers" is a bleak and brutal story about survival and to what ends people will go to continue to l
A Riveting Near Future Dystopian Debut Novel

Michael Farris Smith writes like William Faulkner, with more than a nod to Cormac McCarthy and J. G. Ballard, in his debut novel “Rivers”, chronicling one man’s heroic efforts in returning to civilization in the wake of a near future climatological disaster which has rendered much of the coastline of the southern United States flooded or otherwise uninhabitable, a veritable “no man’s land” in which barbarism is the status quo. Cohen refuses to leave th
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

Roads are washed out, along with buildings, bridges, food and just about every other necessity needed to survive. Mississippi, along with the rest of the Gulf Coast, is a waterlogged mess and it’s been raining for so long that it’s hard for Cohen to remember life before the rain, but he does remember some things, like the beauty of his dead wife and how much he wanted the child that was growing inside her before they were
Jenny (Reading Envy)
In a near-future apocalyptic Mississippi, hurricanes and flooding are so frequent (nearly constant) that the government has redrawn the southern border of the country above the disaster zone. Anyone living south of The Line has no government assistance, no security, and must fend for him or herself. This setting is one of the most realistic apocalyptic worlds I have read. I'm intentionally not using the word "post" because throughout the novel, destruction continues. People are trying to survive ...more
Post-apocalyptic books are one of my all-time favorite genres, often because the situation forces people/government/entities/whatever to strip away artifice and get to what is "real" and I had been looking forward to this particular title for awhile. Perhaps I need to give myself a break. This was a decent book, I was always interested in continuing, but I just didn't....I don't know, care as much as I should have and it often just seemed grim with no real purpose.

First off, those living "below
Rivers takes place in a world in which after a massive hurricane pattern spanning years is set to ravage the southern states, the US creates a new border called “the Line” about a hundred miles up from the coast and declares the south part of the nation no longer part of the country. There are no laws, no government, and no continuation of life previously known to these people. The government gave people the choice to sell their land and move north, or stay and fend for themselves. Because of th ...more
Very interesting read, and a new take on a post-apocalyptic scenario. Not the end of the world as we know it but a severely altered world. A synopsis below. I didn't write it, but its perfect.

"Set on the Mississippi Gulf Coast after a climate shift in the years following Hurricane Katrina has ravaged the region. In response to the unrelenting storms and widespread devastation, the federal government instituted a boundary known as the Line, below which citizens can expect no aid. Those who stay b
Nov 20, 2014 {dvc} rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: a-w
Yet another GoodReads review that I'd love to give more than 3 stars to but couldn't quite bring myself to give it 4. I'd say it's about a 3.8. Living in the Gulf South I thought that the premise of the book and how it makes use of the landcape to be spot on. Some of the dialogue is a tad stilted in places and the inclusion of the Venice side bars stick out as being a bit out of place, but all in all it's a quality read and an interesting exploration of loss and grief, which I found to be pretty ...more
Diane S.
We have finally damaged the earth so much that the coastal regions are being struck by unending storms and hurricanes, even the Mississippi valley has become a permanent flood zone. A line is drawn, the line delineating where services and protection will be offered, all other area and people who choose to stay in them are on there on. Of course man kind being what it is, these areas become a violent no man's land.

The tone is similar in nature to "The Road" but this is much more expansive than t
Tim Linder
This was an interesting novel and a hard one to rate. At times I really had a hard time getting into the book, especially in the beginning, but towards the end I was really enjoying it. I liked Smith's writing overall, but felt it was a bit uneven. Sometimes it really did just feel like Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' with rain. The story ended up being an amalgamation of 'The Road' + 'I Am Legend' + 'Treasure of Sierra Madre', but still managed to retain its originality. I felt like it could have ...more
Michael Flanagan
What can I say I went into this book with high expectations and I walked away wondering what all the fuss was about. The background to this book had so much potential, a world drowning by a changed weather system where rain, rain and more rain was the constant forecast.

The book started off well enough setting the scene of desolation in which the tale would be told. But very quickly this book got bogged down in the narrative with the author struggling to make the story flow. I found myself often
Robert Intriago
A dystopian thriller. It has been raining for 641 days and Cohen has lost his pregnant wife. He lives outside of Gulfport, MS., and needs to find a way out to the line and away from destruction. The problem is food and gasoline. Take the movie "Mad Max" and combine it with McCarthy's "The Road" and you have "Rivers".

I discovered this book in the New York Times book section reviewing new Southern writers. The story is full of action, gloom and doom with some specks of sunshine appearing now and t
Shellie Zeigler
I enjoyed not only the premise of Smith's book, but his writing style. Just as other readers are saying--I can very much see Cormac McCarthy and Larry Brown in his writing style. The loss the main character suffers definitely showed what he was made of and what he had to give to his fellow man. I'm alwyas a sucker for that plot (when done well). I eagerly await what this author publishes next.
Leroy Rodriguez
I read this book recently while on vacation in Plevna Ontario, surrounded by lakes and more water than a Central Texan is used to seeing. I didn't want to like it at first because of the accolades on the dust jacket. Nothing could be that good! Well, it is that good, with a maturity and grace that was stunning. Although you know what has to happen half way thru the story, indeed the title itself speaks with the inevitability of death, this undeniable "knowing" serves to heighten the suspense.
Rating - 2.5 stars

I am quite fond of reading dystopian novels, that they deviate from the norm is what works for me as a reader when I pick a good one up. When I learned about Rivers by Michael Farris Smith and read its summary I was hooked.

Unfortunately the excitement didn't translate to the book. Set in the future where a climate shift has caused massive damage to the Southeastern United States. The coastlines are eroded and people made to evacuate their homes by government, those that stay b
Paul Pessolano
“Rivers” by Michael Farris Smith, published by Simon & Schuster.

Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date – September 10, 2013

If you want to read a book that will keep you reading into the night, “Rivers” is your next read. A book that will give you all the action, adventure, and mystery you can handle from the first page until the last page.

The lower United States has come under a climate change that has caused the government to evacuate those who want to leave below an imaginary bound
PJV Quickie: I usually get excited when authors narrate their own books. But, then again, I’ve really only experienced the best this way, like Libba Bray ( amazing ). So, I was pretty pumped to listen to Michael Farris Smith narrate his apocalyptic gem, RIVERS. Unfortunately, Smith’s narration was a bit dry and emotionless, which turned this very heart-pounding and emotional book into a rather slow listen. If it would have been a hired narrator, I would have stopped listening. That it was the au ...more
This was an interesting experience of obvious quality reading material and yet lacking that certain wow, I can't wait to see what happens next. Michael Farris Smith is a talented writer, no question about that. His writing is strong, his use of language good and occasionally great. In this book he creates a world of (presumably) near future where the south is getting washed away, quite literally. Global warming or preferential treatment of geography by weather, hurricane and storms have driven t ...more
Uh, well, this is kind of a western meets dystopia...that doesn't go anywhere.

I started reading this book blind, as in I just picked it up and read it. And for the beginning of it, it was good. I was interested right up until it switched to Mariposa's perspective. Once it switched over, the pace slowed right down, and it didn't really pick up until the last few chapters. But by then I was already far too bored to be impressed anymore.

You will notice that it took me a very long time to read this
This is an enjoyable read - if a little hard to classify in a genre. Amazon has it under the Science Fiction/Fantasy heading, but it doesn’t quite fit there - though, as a dystopian novel, I suppose that does make this a good candidate for that grouping. It reminds me a lot of Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars. And since I finished listening to Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker the day I began reading this, the two compliment each other so well! The impact of the weather on the southern part of the Uni ...more
Janet Ursel
I often binge-read, devouring a novel in only one or two sittings. It was impossible with Rivers. I needed a break from the intensity and all that rain. Do not mistake this for a complaint or a criticism. It is a masterful book, which hits all the bases I look for to deserve the moniker of Gourmet Reading: superb understated prose, powerful characterization, and a plot that keeps me turning pages. In this case you can throw in an incredible depiction of the setting as a bonus. So yes, if you are ...more
Suzanne Eastman
Death, destruction and relentless storms set the background to this breathtaking story of a man who risks it all to keep his dream for a family alive. When bad events turn worse Cohen has to turn being resourceful and must dig deeper than he ever imagined in order to survive. What do the people Cohen meets up with want, what will they do when desperation hits its peak? While searching for answers you will find yourself into the story trying to survive along with the characters. The interesting a ...more
Timothy Neesam
Rivers is a harrowing read. Prolonged heavy rain and hurricanes have devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast. Cohen, a residents who refused a mandatory evacuation order, builds and rebuilds his house in memory of his now-deceased wife and daughter. Circumstance leads Cohen to forge a bond with a group of people who need saving and who help save Cohen from himself. Beautiful prose mixed with almost-unbearable suspense. Rivers bears strong comparison with Winters Bone, with a strong old Testament feel and ...more
I think I need a towel after reading this one. There are only a few scenes out of the rain in this book and the characters are usually coming in from a downpour and are soaked to begin with. This is a book about one guys struggle to survive in an area declared by the government to be a complete write off. So many storms have hit, and continue to hit, the south that a line is drawn and those below the line are literally on their own as far as the government is concerned. Of course in a lawless la ...more
Jason Clarion
My brother won this in a giveaway and I took it off his hands, well snuck it out of his apartment when he wasn't there. GReat cover, first. And then this novel just roars and roars. Reminds me a lot of the other writers this one is compared to. It's an awesome world that the writer creates and the story never seems to have a break in it. I kept waiting to see what would happen next and I swear one thing topped the next. Great characters, crazy place, I'll probably read it again to make sure I di ...more
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Michael Farris Smith's debut novel RIVERS has been named to Best Books of 2013 by Hudson Books,, The Capital Times,, and RIVERS transforms the Mississippi Gulf Coast into a lawless, abandoned region following years of devastating hurricanes. His 2011 Paris novella, "The Hands of Strangers," has been praised as a "fantastic debut" by Publisher's Week ...more
More about Michael Farris Smith...
In the beginning: A short story prequel to the novel Rivers The Hands of Strangers: A Novella The Emerson Review

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“Tomorrow you and them will set out for the end of your lives and I’ll be here. The one who gave and would keep on giving if you’d let me. But you don’t want to let me. You and them are going to walk through the valley but you’ll have no shepherd. You’ll have no answers. And you’ll kill the babies. And you’ll die. You ain’t no healer, no more than I am, but I can give more than you.” 3 likes
“And it was then that Cohen began to feel the weight of the others in this house on this dot on the map below the Line. He had always been aware that he wasn't the only one who had lost, but the losses for others seemed different to him, more true and exact, now that the losses of others had eyes and faces and arms and legs.” 1 likes
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