Tim Lebbon’s THE LAST STORM depicts an America dying from climate change, focusing on a young woman who can either save or destroy it. I liked this one a lot, but as it’s Lebbon, that’s not surprising. He’s a craftsman with a knack for telling new and engaging apocalyptic stories.
It’s the future, and desertification and super storms caused by a warming planet are slowly destroying America. In this hostile land, Ash, a young woman, sets out to build a device she instinctively knows how to create and how to use as a gift passed down through her family. She is a rain maker.
Unfortunately, given the state of mind of the person calling down the rain, water isn’t the only thing that gets through. Creatures may come as well, hungry and monstrous. As she travels in search of the parts she needs for her apparatus, her parents, who well know the cost of rain making, pursue and try to save her and the world from herself. And a young man sets out on a similar path, hoping for revenge.
As with novels like THE SILENCE, Lebbon is a solid craftsman, matching likeable characters to a titillating apocalyptic premise with supreme stakes. The lore of the rain makers–what they can do, the apparatus they use, and so on–is great, the characters are all terrific, and the action is great. There is a satisfying blue-collar workmanship about how Lebbon writes; his stories read like workhorses. Probably my only criticism is the same as with THE SILENCE, which is the villain. In both, Lebbon decided to add a villain to enhance the dimensionality of the conflict, but as a reader I didn’t feel they were necessary. In THE LAST STORM, the parents who wants to save their daughter from herself are in themselves a terrific antagonist for Ash. And of course, the creature element in both stories makes a perfect villain.
Overall, I ended up liking this one a lot, which again wasn’t surprising given the author. Recommended if you’re looking for something new in apocalyptic fiction.