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Sherwood Nation

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Water rations are down to one gallon per person per day... the mayor is proposing digging a trench to the Pacific Ocean... dried out West Coast cities are crumbling and being abandoned by the east... and in Portland, Oregon, water is declared a communal right but hoarding and riots persist.

Amidst this, a young water activist nicknamed Maid Marian (a.k.a. Renee, 20-somethin
Paperback, 399 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Small Beer Press
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Average rating 3.49  · 
Rating details
 ·  169 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Full disclosure: I know Ben and read this book in MS form, before it was published. I haven't read the published version yet (just got it, fresh off the press!) so my comments are a little dated and details may not match with the final version.

That said, this is a great book. Set in Portland, OR, it follows the stories of several different characters navigating the slow apocalypse of a world in fatal drought. It's not so much a book about the end of the world, though, as it is about the creation
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
What happens when the water gets turned off for good? When civilization heads for the cliff? Benjamin Parzybok's Sherwood Nation has both bangs and whimpers, and an outstanding cast of characters who find and/or lose their humanity as the west coast of North America turns into a dust bowl. Unexpected outcomes to several events thrust the protagonist into the role of a community leader, and while she rises to the occasion, she also pays a heavy price. An aging drug lord finds his humanity, while ...more
Jul 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This strikes me as a novel that deserves more attention than I saw it get when it was published. In some ways it's easy to pin down. Not too far into the future, a persistent drought is leading to the collapse of American civil institutions and social fabric, as exemplified within the book by day-to-day life in Portland, OR; a young activist is caught on camera distributing water intended for the wealthy, nicknamed "Maid Marion", and is pushed into (and seizes) the opportunity to lead an area of ...more
John Hanscom
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good book, more in the lines of Erehwon, Utopia, and Shangra-La than most dystopian fiction. There are certainly no nuclear explosions and mutants. Its basic idea is that, in a crisis, traditional governments are too large to manage, and what is needed is what, in the Civil Rights days of the 60s, was called "community organizing," and gives one fictional account on doing so.
Laura de Leon
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
A strong look at our country dealing with major disaster-- in this case, ongoing widespread drought.

The characters were strong, and the way they dealt with the issues was believable. I had a few issues with the worldbuilding, but not enough to significantly get in the way of the story.
Carol Waller
Oct 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Still not sure what I think. Did make me cherish every drop of water I drank.

I kept putting it down, going I don't really like it. Then I'd pick it up to see how it ends. Or really doesn't.

The twist of the end of Brandon and Christopher was jarring. The end of the story, though, was predictable in that there weren't really any outs. But it was still handled well.

So - characters: okay, but I really never did care much for any of them
Setting: well done and intrinsic to the plot
Plot: great idea,
Jul 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, spec-fic
I don't think I've ever come across an apocalypse story quite like this, that focuses on politics and logistics, or is as much about how people help as hurt one another when things collapse.

This is sort of the opposite of the more common loner survivalist or oppressive regime apocalypse narratives. Instead you get the collective working together story, and all the individual weirdos with their own obsessive projects involved in building a new society (apocalypse for nerds, maybe). Not to mentio
Mar 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-read-2016
Omg I finally finished this book. Don't read it. It's quite terribly bad. The writing is pretentious and wooden and occasionally grammatically incorrect, there are meandering useless plot lines galore, important things are left unresolved and others resolved in the most bizarre ways. I started to cringe every time the mayor's voice appeared because the writing was so unlikable. And I kept thinking - it takes water to make stuff, to make plastic, gasoline, everything and it's never mentioned, lik ...more
Francesca Forrest
Oct 30, 2014 marked it as gave-up-on
I like the idea of this book very much, but as soon as I started it, I felt tired. There are many viewpoints, many human relationships to pay attention to--I like this sometimes, but this time, it just felt like hard work. Maybe I didn't take an instant shine to any of the people I was introduced to--not that I disliked them (I didn't), it's just I couldn't find my way into them. And although I really love the idea of forming an autonomous community, when faced with the prospect of reading about ...more
Kallen Kentner
The gritty world in Sherwood Nation and the circumstances that changed a former barista into a figure of hope is a story that focuses more on the consequences of disaster rather than the disaster itself.

Read the full review on GeekyLibrary

The author event was exciting too!
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
A perfect example of why I get bent out of shape when friends say speculative fiction has no relevance to daily life. Great food for thought with engaging characters. Wrapped up nicely and I suspect it's one of those that's going to stick in my head for a very long time.
Rob Solomon
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent story, very well told. The plot unfolds well, with surprises and a pretty clear set of messages about power. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
May 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
No. I do not buy it. The characters are wooden, the social comportment is not plausible. This is the script to a catastrophy happening inside a computer simulation - maybe SimCity?
David Cattarin
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook
This book really doesn't compare well to "The Water Knife" by Bacigalupi. Both books deal with societies that are in crisis due to a lack of water, however, I often struggled to get myself to finish "Sherwood Nation". Moving past that comparison, I also found there were too many scenarios that strained credibility along with some statements about weather that were just plain wrong. It seems to me that this was all just an excuse to drive the plot in order to explore the concept of Micro Nations, ...more
Rachel Fealk
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
I loved the premise of this book. Loved it. But it just fell flat! There were too many characters, and the world-building was done poorly. It doesn't make sense that in a world deplete of water you still are producing things made of plastic and growing crops. Maybe this is possible, but they never explain how. Also, the characters just got boring! Because there were so many, we didn't get to delve into them. The love story was also weak.
Clarice Warren
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun, enjoyable read for me. I wonder what kind of Robin Hood I would be?
Rachelle Carnes
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story. Very inspired. The writing was a bit clunky and despite trying a style it was kind of all of the place.
Here in California we’re having another year of drought. A severe drought. The state is considering drastic measures. Well, not as drastic as what you find in Sherwood Nation. This book’s theme is of water becoming so scare that people are literally dying of thirst and water becomes the measure of wealth. The setting is Portland, Oregon and they are cut off from the rest of the United States. East of the Rockies things may be going better, but that’s not really explored. The National Guard ratio ...more
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
I had heard the author speak on The Commonwealth Club and I thought the premise was intriguing - a severe multi-year drought in the Western States (since we were living through one at the time). Not a total dystopia - each person gets one gallon a water per day and the government still functions (sort of).

So, I got the book and read it.

In a word, 'meh'. None of the characters are compelling and one could argue they appeal more to the young adult market. The locale, Portland OR, is settling into
Elizabeth Moeller
I received this book as a giveaway from Goodreads. The premise of this book is that in near future Portland there is an ongoing drought that has resulted in water rationing and an increase in violence. Renee, a barista, is part of an activist group that is taking action against presumed government corruption involving the distribution of water, and during one action she ends up distributing water to the masses and the tv news image of her doing so turns her into a kind of activist folk hero. The ...more
Samantha Shelby
Dec 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Didn't like the cardboard characters anyway, but the ending was an enormously boring cliché. Infuriating. Why do I look for brilliance in modern fiction only to turn, disappointed, back to the classics? When will I learn my lesson?
Feb 14, 2015 rated it liked it
+5 stars for being set in Portland, I always get a kick out of reading things when I can visualize the scenes. "I know where that is!" "I know what that park looks like!"

-5 stars for having Portland seceding from the city but drawing the border at Ainsworth and 15th, effectively cutting me (er, I mean, my old apartment) out.

+5 stars for having an extremely diverse set of characters.

-5 stars for ending too soon, I mean, I had like a half-hour left to go on my bus ride and I was done with the bo
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
I have to say it, sorry, but I found this book to be rather dry. I normally love dystopian stories but this one did not quench my thirst for a good book. I liked the premise of the story, it just seemed like a very dense text, like something read in a college classroom rather than for fun. There were a few unnecessary story lines (Martin and the guy who became Zach's patient). What purpose did those plot points server other than to increase the length of the book? I really wish I could give 1/2 ...more
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mine, kindle
At times I had the impression that this book's inventive and original premise does not work fully. But Parzybok - or rather the characters he created - somehow tricked me into turning a blind eye to that.
I also put the book away around its middle for a month or so, reading something else. It felt like a solid 3-star to me, getting stronger towards the end. 3,5 stars, rounded up for its originality.

Side note: this man (or Maid?) an write letters!
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, dystopian
Although this starts out as a pretty standard dystopian about a society that has run out of water, it stars to pick up when one area secedes from the city and sets up an independent system of government. The details of starting a new society from scratch are captivating and turns this into an interesting study of human nature. While not quite as well-written, I kept being reminded of aspects of Stephen King's Under the Dome and think this would make a good readalike.
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Given the weather changes we've seen in the past few years here in the Great Northwest, the scenario Parzybok's Sherwood Nation portrays is not that far-fetched! I found the book fun to read, yet disturbing since I live in the Portland area. Great characters, especially the story's heroine. The story flows nicely, is well-written and is very engaging. I highly recommend this book for anyone, not just Portlanders!
Beth Gross
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting premise, started off strong, became increasingly improbable. There was a distracting shift of focus away from the protagonist in the second half of the book which then jumped from character to character. I went from emotionally invested to completely indifferent. Exciting and fun at the beginning, but ultimately scattered and difficult to finish.
Renee Gimelli
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This selection for the Silicon Valley Reads 2016 is going to open a lot of eyes to the idea of restructuring big government. Built on a futuristic premise where water is traded like gold, you can expect the good guys and the bad guys to square off. But knowing a little about the insides of the characters gives them flesh and blood and dichotomy: to be or not to be a hero.
Oct 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
I wish I could put my finger on why I quit reading this book, both to defend my rating and because I REALLY wanted to like it. I love the story, setting, and theme, but I couldn't get into it. If I had to blame something, it would be the writing. The dialog is stilted and the prose is dull.
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Ben lives in Portland, OR
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