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(Rivers #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,857 ratings  ·  400 reviews
For fans of Cormac McCarthy and Annie Proulx, “a wonderfully cinematic story” (The Washington Post) set in the post-Katrina South after violent storms have decimated the region.

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 w
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Simon Schuster
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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,857 ratings  ·  400 reviews

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Apr 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern

"As I went down to the rivers to pray
Studying about them good old days
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way!"

"O fathers, let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
O fathers, let's go down
Down to the rivers to pray."

What if Rivers not there.
Taken away like everything else that mattered to you.
Your memories remain... mostly sweet, good.
Memories and your flooded homeland.....
with the promise of more rain and hurricanes.

Pray anyway,
....4.5 Stars.. After reading the prequel, IN THE BEGINNING, I knew this would be my kind of read with the fury of catastrophic weather, a nearly abandoned land and a vile preaching predator in the midst.

....RIVERS is a story of survival. Warning after warning of a destructive band of hurricanes on the way and repeated offers to purchase his property, Cohen refuses to leave his Mississippi home. Even after a close encounter with death, instead of escape, he seeks revenge unaware of the evil he i

Elyse Walters
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Yikes almighty frickin hell...It's been a long time since I've read a pulse-pounding novel.
"It had been raining for weeks. Maybe months. He had forgotten the last day that it had rained, when the storms gave way to the pale blue of the Gulf sky, when the birds flew and the clouds were white and the sunshine glistened across the drenched land."

The catastrophe from the hurricanes stretching from the Florida Panhandle to the Louisiana border was so depleted the government drew a new boundary 90 mil
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was the first novel by Michael Farris Smith, and I love this man's writing!
I felt like I was right in the middle of the Gulf Coast, where the rain and storms never stopped, causing the government to draw a line where people who live below the line get no help, it's a no man's land, people who stay have to fend for themselves.

Cohen, who is grieving the loss of his wife and unborn child, chooses to stay and this is the story of what he faces, and what a journey it is! Very intense and addic
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Wildly, here we are again with me updating this. A year ago, we had a trifecta of hurricanes start out with Harvey in Texas, threatening to bust dams open. Now, satellite images show three hurricanes in the Atlantic and a tropical storm in the Gulf. This tense and beautiful work of suspense is the PERFECT read for those of us not storm-prepping. Crazy.

Original review:

Well... what a story. Rather grim and dark, literally. Dystopian is one of the categories that interest me. Who says this can't happen, weather changing, relentless rain and water taking the feels sort of realistic in a way. I live in The Netherlands, the low lands, below sea level, we have to protect our country against the rising waters.... So, we know the dangers of water. Rivers is a quick read.
Between 3 and 4 stars for me but rather towards 4 so that it is. The Road by Cormac Mc
Diane S ☔
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
4.5 Stars

There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief

All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan

”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 the sunshine glistened across the drenched land.”

Cohen looked around, his dog beside him, staring at the lumber that sat soaked
Cathrine ☯️
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was so impressed with the writing in Desperation Road that I rushed to read this and its precursor In the beginning: A short story prequel to the novel Rivers without any story or review prep.
Post-Apocalypse is not my reading preference as I feel it's too oppressive, wreaking devastation page after page, with not much hope or satisfaction on the horizon because that’s the issue with any sort of apocalypse right?
Nonetheless it was quite compelling, timely, and believable. Years of catastro
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Gets my vote for the worst ever depiction of Venice I’ve come across in literature. I wasn’t sure what Venice was even doing in this book. But I had the feeling the author had never been there.

Rivers has been compared to The Road but I’m afraid I found none of the artistry of Cormac McCarthy’s book here. Bit like comparing Jaws 3 with the original. Lots of generic characters (the lead character is sensitive, he’s generously attentive to women and animals but he can also be relied upon to win an
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Damn, can this man write. When I finished this book, I looked around me and wondered what the hell I was going to do with myself. Incredible writing, atmosphere, characters, suspense… Smith has crazy talent. I loved this book even more than Desperation Road, and that’s saying something. Many other reviewers have already said it well, so nothing I can say here will be new, but I still need to get it out.

This story grabbed me by the throat and while it was painful sometimes, at no point did I ever
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Michael Farris Smith has created in Rivers a world that might exist if the hurricanes beating the Southern USA were unrelenting and followed one upon the other until the population had to be evacuated and the area deserted. Some people would stay, some always do. Smith's main character, Cohen is one of those who stays. He is unable to part himself from the memories of his wife and unborn child who have died and are buried behind his home.

I must say I loved this book. It felt like a ri
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
James Thane
Apr 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Tom Mathews
Insurance companies refer to storm damage as an act of God, yet I doubt that anyone would see any touch of the divine in the climatic cataclysm that has befallen the Gulf Coast in Michael Farris Smith’s debut novel. In a world where Hurricane Katrina was just the beginning,
It has been 613 days since the declaration of the Line, a geographical boundary line drawn ninety miles north of the coastline from the Texas-Louisiana border across the Mississippi coast to Alabama. A geographical boundary
Connie G
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The rain was relentless. For years the winds roared, lightening cracked, vines whipped over toppled trees, water flooded abandoned buildings, and skinny animals roamed the post-Katrina Gulf Coast. The government had transported people to areas north of "The Line" in evacuation buses, but a few survivalists and treasure hunters had remained. It was a lawless world where Cohen stayed in Mississippi, unable to leave his home full of memories of his beloved wife and unborn child who had both died. C ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

613 days ago the government made a decision regarding things down South . . . .

Hold up. Not that far South. After years upon years of being obliterated by hurricanes, it was decided it was in the best interest of the nation to establish “the Line” – a geographical boundary 90 miles north of the coastline spanning the Texas-Louisiana border all the way across Mississippi to Alabama. Mandatory evacuation was broadcast, the population
Diane Barnes
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Holy God, what a book! I was of two minds the whole time I was reading, sick of the storms and the wet and the hunger and
the violence that was inherent in life below "the line", but needing to get back to it whenever I had to put the book down. I won't rehash the plot outline, as the book description gives you the gist of the story, but there is enough action in this one to satisfy anyone. Some people have classified this as a post-apocalyptic novel, but it was not difficult at all for me to se
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 Stars!
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
3.99 Kindle Special 10/27/16
Oh my, what a fantastic, intense read! This is definitely a favorite for 2016. I felt a connection with the setting because we were stationed in Gulfport, MS and lived in Biloxi when my husband was in the Navy. I'm very familiar with the area.

"It was as if they were being returned to the earth, driven into the ground by the force of the storm, their stiff bodies less skin and bone and more mud and root with each passing moment."

Katrina was only the beginning and years
Apr 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: end-o-the-world
An endless line of hurricanes has battered the Gulf Coast for years, below the a boundary called "the line" everyone has been evacuated aside from some who stay in this wet, rotting place. This debut novel by Mississippi author, Michael Farris Smith, was stunning. Anyone who has lived on the coast and experienced hurricanes could easily imagine this sort of reality. Superb writing and great characters. Can't wait to see what is next from this author. Thank you Mississippi Library Commission for ...more
May 15, 2016 marked it as verlaten
Briefly Experiencing a Real World DYSTOPIA

Thanks to my friends' stellar reviews, I've started reading this book. The book's description triggers flashbacks to experiencing Dystopia* once in 4D real life. I realize how lucky I am not to have lived in that dire world between Waveland, MS and New Orleans, LA in early Sept 2005, a few days after Hurricane Katrina. Waveland especially.

I was part of a charitable foundation who was delivering food, a fire truck and a cop car to this little town a fe
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great book with excellent character development. Lots of action and NONE of it predictable! Very entertaining. Some very intense moments.
Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOOWWWWW! What an addiction this book was. I couldn't wait to get back to it. Crazy story!
Rivers by Michael Farris Smith is a novel about environmental catastrophe along the Gulf Coast. Hit by storm after storm with almost constant rain, the area has been declared unlivable and is mostly abandoned. Around 90 miles inland, a line on a map differentiates the habitable United States from the lawless void of the vacated territories that lie on the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, there are always some that don’t leave, just as when governors declare a state of emergency and mandatory evacuatio ...more
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
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Kirk Smith
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
More nerve-racking than Walking Dead, even greater risk of fatal consequence from EXTREMES of Nature run amok. Great story it will read fast because it can't be put down! 4 point 5
~✡~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
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Michael Farris Smith is the author of The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. He has been awarded the Mississippi Author Award for Fiction, Transatlantic Review Award, and Brick Streets Press Story Award. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Nobl ...more
“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.” 5 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.” 2 likes
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