3 out of 4 stars
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The future is here. The year is 2086 and many of the things we traditionally associate with science-fiction are present all across the world. Virtually all citizens have implanted devices, self-driving (and flying) cars are making their way into society, personal computers are rolled up and brought everywhere, and there are even wand-like devices that act in lieu of keys and remote controls. Regrettably, the world is also three degrees warmer than it is right now. Although that doesn’t sound like much, this global increase in temperature has wreaked havoc across much of the United States of America. Wide-spread coastal flooding has left massive areas of previously populated mainland completely underwater. Despite building dykes, raising highways, and channeling the water elsewhere, the U.S. is fighting a losing battle. Mass migration inward and northward has become commonplace and there is even a covert business helping those looking to escape into the safety of America’s neighbor to the north: Canada.
This book follows the story of three families, from vastly different backgrounds, trying their luck in escaping the problems plaguing America. Frank, Dana, and Embrey have been living in a private, domed complex in Texas built to house Gibson Petroleum employees. Not seeing a future for Embrey, who just graduated high-school, they decide to try their luck heading north. However, is this the sole motivation of the family’s patriarch? Harry’s house in Georgia just got hit by the latest hurricane and is now almost completely underwater. This being the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, he migrates away from anything he has known and tries to survive as an accountant. His final push into Canada alongside his son, however, may show those around him that he is running from something more sinister than just flooding. Finally, Cynthia and Adeliza are fleeing from demons instead of weather. Coming from a relatively wealthy family, they are looking to escape life in a mixed-race family and the social pressures that come with it. Will these families make it through the underground railroad to the Canadian border? Will they make it past the high-tech safeguards the Canadians have installed or will the authorities stop them in their tracks? Will they escape in time or will each of the things these families are running from catch up to them? This and more awaits the reader in Three Degrees and Gone by J. Stewart Willis.
I’ve always been a devoted fan of apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and survival stories. Three Degrees and Gone did not disappoint this fan as it kept me flipping page after page. The fact that this book is set just over six decades into the future does wonders for the plot. It makes it realistic to the current generation, yet is just futuristic enough to allow for creative liberties. As well, the detailed writing the author uses when describing the multitude of locations in this book is just amazing. It shows the author is either intimately aware of Texas, Georgia, and Minnesota from a geographical perspective, or that he does impeccable research. What I liked the most, however, is the description of civilization’s descent into madness. It is both frightening and plausible that something as simple as three degrees of temperature would completely decimate life, civilization and economics as we know it.
There are a few things that I think could have been improved within this book. First, and a very minor point, would be to include a map in the beginning of the book. Although many folks could easily look up all the locations mentioned, having a handy map to show how 2086 America looks with the high-water levels, key cities, and the Canadian border, would be beneficial. As well, there were enough punctuation, spelling and grammatical errors in this book to be mentioned here. The book would definitely benefit from another round of editing. Finally, and what I disliked the most, was how women are portrayed in this book. Although strong women play a big role in how the book is concluded, throughout the story, they take a very subservient role to the men in their lives, which may not be terribly appealing to all readers.
Willis definitely appealed to a few of my literary weak spots. I’m a sucker for apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic fiction, stories of survival, and stories dealing with hardship. For that reason, this one clearly grew on me. For all of the reasons above, I have no problems giving this book a solid 3 out of 4 stars. Due to the grammatical errors and the portrayal of women, I feel obligated to take a single star off. I would recommend this book for those looking for a good survival/escape story that takes place in the near future, as this one definitely delivers on those fronts. There are some mature themes involved, therefore I wouldn’t recommend this one for younger audiences.
Three Degrees And Gone
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