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Storm of Locusts: 08/17/19

Storm of Locusts

Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse is the second of the Sixth World post apocalyptic books set in and around Dinétah. A cult backed by clan powers has arisen in the south of the nation — one that is emptying out entire communities and is apparently hell bent on bringing on a second smaller but deadlier flood targeted at Diné lands.

In Trail of Lightning (2018), the entirety of the plot took place within the walls that define and defend Dinétah from the outside (and mostly flooded) world. This time, Maggie and her traveling companions have to leave their home to save it.

With leaving the world that had been so well defined in the first book, there's a chance to expand upon the world building. The area immediately surrounding what's the current day Navajo Nation is well defined and well thought out. The farther out from the Four Corners area that description goes, the less well it holds up.

California's Big Water fate, for instance involves a combination of forest fire destruction (plausible) and "fall off the continental plate" (impossible). California's plate boundary is a a strike slip one with a small subduction zone at the northern end. A huge quake would push half the state north-westward towards coastal Oregon. Also — the Sierra Nevada towns of California are at higher elevations than Denver.

There's also the odd detail that Maggie finds someone with a new Shasta soda. If Shasta soda is still available, then Hayward California is still afloat. Perhaps it is heavily levied?

Am I taking points off for throw away lines in areas that don't matter to the plot? No of course not. The vast majority of apocalyptic stories don't think through the big picture (aka Earth scale). Two stories I can think of that do are On the Beach by Nevil Shute (1957) and Bis ans Ende der Welt (1991).

graph showing the change in position on the spectrum between books.

Like the first book, Storm of Locusts sits on the road narrative spectrum. This time Maggie is emotionally closer to the people she's traveling with. In this regard, I'm counting her and her companions collectively as family (33). Although the are initially headed towards the Burq for information, their final destination is in the wildlands (99) outside of Dinétah. The route, though, they take, is the Blue Highway (33) — or more specifically a series of them, starting with the "Mother Road" herself, which includes a fun philosophical discussion of I40 vs Route 66. All together, Storm of Locusts is the tale of a family traveling to the wildlands to save their home via the Blue Highway.

Five stars

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