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As the world dies, a woman must choose between her own survival and that of humankind. Raised in a privileged community of wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranchers call “the Disaster,” is a casualty of ravaging climate change, a troubled landscape on the brink of catastrophe. As the world dies, a woman must choose between her own survival and that of humankind. Raised in a privileged community of wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranchers call “the Disaster,” is a casualty of ravaging climate change, a troubled landscape on the brink of catastrophe. For as long as Marlo can remember, the unknown that lies beyond the borders of her utopia has been a curious obsession. But just as she plans her escape into the chaos of the real world, a charismatic new resident gives her a compelling reason to stay. And, soon enough, a reason to doubt—and to fear—his intentions.Now, feeling more and more trapped in a paradise that’s become a prison, Marlo has a choice: stay in the only home she’s ever known—or break away, taking its secrets of survival with her.Set in a chillingly possible, very near future, Disaster’s Children is a provocative debut novel about holding on to what we know and letting go of it for the unknown and the unknowable.


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As the world dies, a woman must choose between her own survival and that of humankind. Raised in a privileged community of wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranchers call “the Disaster,” is a casualty of ravaging climate change, a troubled landscape on the brink of catastrophe. As the world dies, a woman must choose between her own survival and that of humankind. Raised in a privileged community of wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranchers call “the Disaster,” is a casualty of ravaging climate change, a troubled landscape on the brink of catastrophe. For as long as Marlo can remember, the unknown that lies beyond the borders of her utopia has been a curious obsession. But just as she plans her escape into the chaos of the real world, a charismatic new resident gives her a compelling reason to stay. And, soon enough, a reason to doubt—and to fear—his intentions.Now, feeling more and more trapped in a paradise that’s become a prison, Marlo has a choice: stay in the only home she’s ever known—or break away, taking its secrets of survival with her.Set in a chillingly possible, very near future, Disaster’s Children is a provocative debut novel about holding on to what we know and letting go of it for the unknown and the unknowable.

30 review for Disaster's Children

  1. 4 out of 5

    Anissa

    I'm going to keep this one short. I was so excited to read this as the summary sounded wonderful and I have Kindle Unlimited so it was very simple to obtain. Sadly, it never converted into a spectacular read. Marlo and her fellow enclave inhabitants weren't ultimately the most interesting bunch though their existence sequestered from the wider society was a very interesting setup. The information on the culmination of climate change on the wider world is received in drips via email or news glean I'm going to keep this one short. I was so excited to read this as the summary sounded wonderful and I have Kindle Unlimited so it was very simple to obtain. Sadly, it never converted into a spectacular read. Marlo and her fellow enclave inhabitants weren't ultimately the most interesting bunch though their existence sequestered from the wider society was a very interesting setup. The information on the culmination of climate change on the wider world is received in drips via email or news gleaned from the internet and I thought that at least was a novel way to tell that part of the story. For as much time as spent with Marlo and the others, it felt like they were at a distance too but I found I didn't care about them enough to much mind. The big deal of the story is will Marlo stay on the ranch or will she strike out on her own and go out to "the Disaster" and what about her love life? I can tell you this, by book's end, I no longer cared. I like a quiet apocalyptic story (see Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Book of M by Peng Shepherd and The Last One by Alexandra Oliva) there was some very nice prose but the story just didn't speak to me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Britta Böhler

    Interesting premise/setting but... Boring. 1.5* rounded up because it's a debut. Interesting premise/setting but... Boring. 1.5* rounded up because it's a debut.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Betül

    **ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review** When I read the synopsis of this book I'd imagined a whole other story than the one I got. It unfortunately did not meet the expectations I set when I started this novel. I was expecting more suspense, action, and twists and turns. However, what I got was a monotone story with unrelatable characters. I didn't like that almost the whole story was set on the self-sustaining Oregon ranch. I would've loved for the main character to grow a **ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review** When I read the synopsis of this book I'd imagined a whole other story than the one I got. It unfortunately did not meet the expectations I set when I started this novel. I was expecting more suspense, action, and twists and turns. However, what I got was a monotone story with unrelatable characters. I didn't like that almost the whole story was set on the self-sustaining Oregon ranch. I would've loved for the main character to grow and explore the outside world, because the world the author had created was pretty intriguing, and I would've loved to see it brought more to life on paper. What I got at the end of this book is what I would've loved to have happened in the middle of story. It had a very slow pace, and the main character wasn't that interesting to be honest. I couldn't connect to her and I didn't like her that much. She was in her mid-twenties but acted way younger. This book didn't feel finished, it ended when the story was starting to get good. This story felt more like a first book in a series, and if that was the case I would've definitely gave it an extra star.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Knobby

    I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book hits all of the points that I find fascinating (and terrifying) about the rapid and long-term effects of climate change. Marlo, the adopted daughter of two people who read the writing on the wall two decades ago, lives in a compound in rural Oregon. Among them in their community are other wealthy people who picked up and left their old jobs, friends, and lives to get ready for the collapse of society, which they expect I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book hits all of the points that I find fascinating (and terrifying) about the rapid and long-term effects of climate change. Marlo, the adopted daughter of two people who read the writing on the wall two decades ago, lives in a compound in rural Oregon. Among them in their community are other wealthy people who picked up and left their old jobs, friends, and lives to get ready for the collapse of society, which they expect to happen in their lifetimes. When a stranger shows up at the gates of the community and throws a wrench into Marlo's life, she wonders if it's worth leaving the safety of the community and going back out into the Disaster. The author used to write long-form journalism, and it shows in the writing; there are many carefully-crafted sentences and lovely descriptions, but I feel that the craft of the writing took precedent over the crafting of the story. It took nearly half the book to get to the inciting incident that gets Marlo's story really going, and by then I almost didn't care anymore. Marlo's everyday routines, relationship with her parents, relationship with the newcomer, all of it felt like we were just being pushed along in the story instead of pulled forward with curiosity. I never felt a burning question about what was going to happen next.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Yet another story with an interesting premise but poor execution. Adopted Marlowe has lived in a Wealthy idyllic self-sustaining ranch while the outside world (“the disaster“ due to climate change) Is on the brink of catastrophe. The story was just too slow for me, with little conflict and predictable twists.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eloise Caleo

    I found Disaster's Children riveting. It's the first book in quite a while that I have read in one stretch, devouring it over a long summer's day, pausing only to make a sandwich and take it back to the couch. I fell in a bit in love with Marlo, Sloley's main character. Sheltered yes, but asking so many questions of herself, good questions, that so many of us are asking, even if our choices are not as stark as a gated community versus the outside world. I enjoyed Marlo's self-consciousness and u I found Disaster's Children riveting. It's the first book in quite a while that I have read in one stretch, devouring it over a long summer's day, pausing only to make a sandwich and take it back to the couch. I fell in a bit in love with Marlo, Sloley's main character. Sheltered yes, but asking so many questions of herself, good questions, that so many of us are asking, even if our choices are not as stark as a gated community versus the outside world. I enjoyed Marlo's self-consciousness and uncertainties, her lust for life or at least her idea of life, her honesty, and her naive courage. And I enjoyed the ambiguity in the portrayal of Wolf, with whom she is falling in love - is he or isn't he what he seems? I enjoyed the way Sloley has our devastating near-future sidle up on us, as Marlo feels more and more intently the limits of and the dissonance within her world, an (almost) off-grid utopia for the privileged, and the desire to go and do something, even just for the sake of trying. Will she or won't she! She seems so unprepared. And when I have to let her go, I'm loath to do so, to put the book down, to return to earth.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This wasn't bad, and expanded on some interesting themes, such as group dynamics in a closed community and parent-(adult) child relationships and expectations. However, I never really felt fully engaged with the plot or characters - it always seemed something was about to happen, but didn't and the genuine points of conflict and drama seemed quite quickly glossed over in favour of the central character's musings. Given the open-ended nature of the ending, I'm wondering if the author is primed fo This wasn't bad, and expanded on some interesting themes, such as group dynamics in a closed community and parent-(adult) child relationships and expectations. However, I never really felt fully engaged with the plot or characters - it always seemed something was about to happen, but didn't and the genuine points of conflict and drama seemed quite quickly glossed over in favour of the central character's musings. Given the open-ended nature of the ending, I'm wondering if the author is primed for a series? Thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher (Little A) for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn McBride

    There were parts of this book that I enjoyed and parts that I wanted to enjoy. But didn't. I enjoyed reading about the compound and the people and personalities that kept the place running. But that might just be the prepper in me. There were parts of the plot that I could have done without, for instance, the one-night stand...was it crucial to the plot? But, I'm sure the author had a plan. So little things kept me from enjoying the book more, but overall, it wasn't a bad read. There were parts of this book that I enjoyed and parts that I wanted to enjoy. But didn't. I enjoyed reading about the compound and the people and personalities that kept the place running. But that might just be the prepper in me. There were parts of the plot that I could have done without, for instance, the one-night stand...was it crucial to the plot? But, I'm sure the author had a plan. So little things kept me from enjoying the book more, but overall, it wasn't a bad read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Polly Krize

    I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Long a fan of dystopian, post-apocalyptic fiction, this seemed promising. Unfortunately, I found it boring, with poor character development, and predictable plotting. Only my opinion.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Neff

    Liked the idea, but ending was a bit of a let down.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrea McDowell

    *114th climate book* I waited a very long time for the library hold to come up on this one. When it finally did, I was surprised to see so many negative reviews and lukewarm ratings here, and started it with a bit of trepidation. I needn't have worried. I love this novel. The disconnect appears to be one of expectations: negative reviews so far say that they were expecting a post-apocalyptic, dystopian story. I guess that's what happens when the field of cli-fi was so dominated through its developm *114th climate book* I waited a very long time for the library hold to come up on this one. When it finally did, I was surprised to see so many negative reviews and lukewarm ratings here, and started it with a bit of trepidation. I needn't have worried. I love this novel. The disconnect appears to be one of expectations: negative reviews so far say that they were expecting a post-apocalyptic, dystopian story. I guess that's what happens when the field of cli-fi was so dominated through its development by disaster stories: The Hunger Games, everything by Paulo Bacigalupi, etc., have all stressed the "tipping point followed by social disintegration and now people must struggle in a violent world for their very survival" kinds of stories. Certainly if you're expecting a main character who is struggling valiantly to contend with extreme weather events or drought or sea-level rise or roving gangs of violent dispossessed men, you will be disappointed: this is not The Walking Dead in cli-fi form. And I get that this has been so predominant in the field that expectations naturally settle towards The Day After Tomorrow in print forever and ever, amen. But this is a much, much better book, a much more nuanced and frankly realistic depiction of the kind of climate change most of us in the first world will experience in the coming decades. Disaster's Children is about the role and responsibilities of privileged people in the climate crisis. Marlo's extremely wealthy parents fled Manhattan in the early years of the 21st century to build The Ranch, an enclave from the coming disasters -- but only for those who can afford to pay the entry fee. It's a bucolic and idyllic setting, completely removed from the building chaos outside. Marlo is a young woman at the time the story opens, in what is either the present day or the very near future (i.e. early 2020s), and struggling to decide if she should stay with her parents at the Ranch and live out her life in sheltered luxury, or if she should leave and do what she can to help humanity and the world. This book can be read on the scale of Marlo's choices, on the personal level, where each of us is struggling to determine what we owe to ourselves and what we owe to the world. Each and every one of us has contributed vastly more to the climate crisis than the vast majority of, say, developing country residents, and many of us even within our privileged countries enjoy extra privilege through race, income, leisure, sex, etc. To what extent do we use our position to shelter ourselves and our families from what we fear is coming, vs. working with our communities and countries to alter the course of the 21st century? And it can be read on a macro level, where wealthy countries, who have enjoyed nearly all of the benefits of the carbon economy while suffering almost none of its costs, now struggle with the rise of populism and authoritarianism, and political leaders who effectively want to turn each of our countries into The Ranch: putting walls on the borders, only letting people in to our relative safety if they can pay the entry fee. The Ranch could be your family, your neighbourhood, or your country: do you take the wealth you have to shelter yourself and your loved ones, or do you try to fight? Is sheltering even possible? Can the crisis be kept outside the walls? Through the novel, Marlo's parents try desperately to use their money to buy a guaranteed safe and pleasurable future for themselves and for Marlo (whether she wants it or not). Marlo herself is an adoptee from China, purchased at great expense by her parents for their own benefit, though there's no question in the novel that they love her and are devoted to her. I won't spoil the story by sharing the lengths they'll go to, but the novel hinges around their choices to control the world through their money and only to benefit themselves, even when they claim to be acting on the behalf of those they love most, and ultimately whether Marlo will follow in their footsteps. They are pitch-perfect representatives of privileged, wealthy white first-world citizens with a lot of love for their families and a full knowledge of what's coming who use all of their resources for their own benefit, while continuing to largely enjoy the lifestyle that got humanity into this mess (air travel, luxury goods, and so on). There is even a migrant labour force, faceless and nameless, that is paid to come in to do the heavy labour that The Ranchers don't want to or can't do. Without the temporary labourers, their Ranch could not function; but do these people deserve to live on the Ranch and enjoy the benefits of what they've built? Oh, no. They can't pay the entry fee. Permanent residence is only for those who can pay, and that probably sounds like your country's immigration policy, which is, I believe, intentional. This is a beautifully written and beautifully considered story about what those of us with privilege should do with our position and resources when the world is falling apart around us. I highly recommend it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    ☆.

    the description invokes the vision of a thought-provoking, suspenseful, "dystopian" tale and it's... not really that. it flirts with the idea of the apocalypse and that in itself could be interesting, but it loses itself somewhat in the romance aspect to a degree that was kind of detrimental to my enjoyment - especially when the narrative acts as if it's going to have some frank discussions re: sexism, racism, classism, etc, but never really commits to it in any meaningful way. there's also the the description invokes the vision of a thought-provoking, suspenseful, "dystopian" tale and it's... not really that. it flirts with the idea of the apocalypse and that in itself could be interesting, but it loses itself somewhat in the romance aspect to a degree that was kind of detrimental to my enjoyment - especially when the narrative acts as if it's going to have some frank discussions re: sexism, racism, classism, etc, but never really commits to it in any meaningful way. there's also the annoying way gay people are "included" only to help boost the image of the ranch as being this inclusive, accepting utopia... while not giving them any personalities beyond being gay (and in the case of the lesbian couple, no dialogue or even a description beyond "they're a lesbian couple".) i can very clearly see what this book Wants to be, and i'm incredibly interested in that. there's potential in the ending that comes just a little too late. enjoyable to an extent, but kind of forgettable. 2.5, rounded up to 3.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Randonn

    I thought I would probably like it based on the premise and the cover (which I love) but even with out many expectations I was still disappointed. A blurb on the cover described it as “rich with detail” but I found a lot of the details pointless. And I like my details to have a point. The way the characters acted and reacted to each other always struck me as slightly off, like it actually the way real humans would react and talk in that situation. The book just ended up irritating me with all th I thought I would probably like it based on the premise and the cover (which I love) but even with out many expectations I was still disappointed. A blurb on the cover described it as “rich with detail” but I found a lot of the details pointless. And I like my details to have a point. The way the characters acted and reacted to each other always struck me as slightly off, like it actually the way real humans would react and talk in that situation. The book just ended up irritating me with all the ways I thought it could have been better.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Dawn Drenning

    Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. This was my first time reading this author and I really enjoyed the book. It's a dystopian tale and I love stories based on what could happen to the world. She did a really good job with character creation and I'm hoping there will be more books to follow this one. There was an unnecessary sex scene that was just thrown in there ( it seemed) but other than that the book was good and I will read more by her. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. This was my first time reading this author and I really enjoyed the book. It's a dystopian tale and I love stories based on what could happen to the world. She did a really good job with character creation and I'm hoping there will be more books to follow this one. There was an unnecessary sex scene that was just thrown in there ( it seemed) but other than that the book was good and I will read more by her.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    Oddly, this is yet another book in central OR...about preppers. Wealthy people create an idyllic oasis and opt out of what they call 'the Disaster'. It's interesting because they are not religious or political; they're simply creating a a really comfy place for humanity's last stand. Frankly, it sounds tempting, and I couldn't relate to the young protagonist's desire to leave. The plot kept me turning the pages, but there were plot lines that just went nowhere, so I kept waiting for.. Oddly, this is yet another book in central OR...about preppers. Wealthy people create an idyllic oasis and opt out of what they call 'the Disaster'. It's interesting because they are not religious or political; they're simply creating a a really comfy place for humanity's last stand. Frankly, it sounds tempting, and I couldn't relate to the young protagonist's desire to leave. The plot kept me turning the pages, but there were plot lines that just went nowhere, so I kept waiting for..

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Glass

    Thank you to the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. Climate change has been something I've been trying to keep in mind in my daily life and to take action accordingly where I can, but it's not something I've really seen in fiction before, hence why I requested this book. Marlo (I assume her name is a portmanteau of both her parents' names) has grown up on an exclusive commune-type community for the wealthy hoping to survive when the effects of climate change strik Thank you to the publisher for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion. Climate change has been something I've been trying to keep in mind in my daily life and to take action accordingly where I can, but it's not something I've really seen in fiction before, hence why I requested this book. Marlo (I assume her name is a portmanteau of both her parents' names) has grown up on an exclusive commune-type community for the wealthy hoping to survive when the effects of climate change strike. The book follows her development as she struggles with wanting to leave, alongside her loyalty to the ranch and her family. Sloley goes to great lengths to try to make us see Marlo as distinct from the other ranchers, trying to show her as open minded about the outside world ('the Disaster') but there is only so far that is believable to me given her age and the privileged lifestyle she has enjoyed. Ultimately, and unexpectedly, this is really a love story, although I guessed the twist in this part of the story quite quickly. The tension and crisis point in the relationship didn't seem particularly big to me either. Although not much really seemed to happen, I did enjoy reading this book. I think more for the climate change aspects (although I did find some of the ranchers' decisions on how to order their lives quite weird - I was surprised they weren't more eco-friendly in some of their practises and wanted to ask Marlo why she hadn't heard of menstrual cups when she was worrying about running out of tampons!). In a way it was kind of disappointing to not see how the climate crisis played out in Sloley's imagined future. Sadly, according to many scientists, climate disaster will strike us much sooner than in this book unless action is taken by governments, businesses, and individuals alike.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Robinson

    **I received an ARC ecopy of this book at no charge thanks to Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion - my words are my OWN. The writing was decent and the third star is for grammar and vocabulary, which was good. The problem was with the formatting (and hopefully the edited & finished version will correct this); the hyphen-split words at the end of a line were done weirdly and it distracted my eye. Like "slaughtered" at the end of a line of text was split as SLAUGHTE-RED and "however" was "H **I received an ARC ecopy of this book at no charge thanks to Netgalley in exchange for an honest opinion - my words are my OWN. The writing was decent and the third star is for grammar and vocabulary, which was good. The problem was with the formatting (and hopefully the edited & finished version will correct this); the hyphen-split words at the end of a line were done weirdly and it distracted my eye. Like "slaughtered" at the end of a line of text was split as SLAUGHTE-RED and "however" was "HOWE-VER." JUST NO. There wasn't much actual "apocalypse" or dystopia, so that was disappointing - just hints and teases of "this" or "that" happening in the "real world". This was more a rich 1% commune for the Haves, who completely lacked self-awareness in their privileged lives and walled out the Have-Nots, which I found fairly distasteful in today's climate. Most of the characters weren't very likable, and one of the main characters was in many completely naive, a poster child for arrested development, having been coddled and spoiled and rich and in the sheltered commune bubble, and also somehow Sex In The City worldly when she went to NYC with her father. Her parents were emotionally manipulative and subtly controlling with "love." There were many satellite characters brought forward, making you think they had some bearing on the story or importance...only to disappear and never be heard from again, except maybe a mention of the name 15 chapters later. There were dangling threads of storyline that were never picked up or tied off. Basically I finished the book feeling vaguely unsatisfied, empty, with no sense of resolution or closure. I'm afraid I wouldn't recommend it as-is. I think the author is capable of better.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emi Bevacqua

    Marlo's adoptive parents, Maya and Carlton, co-founded The Ranch as a co-operative enclave for liberal 1%ers in the endtimes; 5-yrs old on arrival 20 years ago, lone denizen in her age-range since the dramatic departure of her childhood friends Alex and Ben who've forsaken the Ranch and their parents in order to rescue the outside world, aptly known as the Disaster. We don't really get to know other ranchers in depth, this story is Marlo's inner struggle as she matures and craves her own indepen Marlo's adoptive parents, Maya and Carlton, co-founded The Ranch as a co-operative enclave for liberal 1%ers in the endtimes; 5-yrs old on arrival 20 years ago, lone denizen in her age-range since the dramatic departure of her childhood friends Alex and Ben who've forsaken the Ranch and their parents in order to rescue the outside world, aptly known as the Disaster. We don't really get to know other ranchers in depth, this story is Marlo's inner struggle as she matures and craves her own independence. Actual stories in the news so vividly support Emma Sloley's vision of environmental, geo-political, and global breakdown and upheaval in Disaster's Children it is breathtaking. Cynical yet sweet, Marlo is understandably a very young 25, sometimes skipping and constantly referencing her parents. There is a running theme of Marlo doubting her own authenticity, she constantly worries she'll be perceived as trite, naive, a hayseed. I didn't find the character of Marlo's love interest Wolf to be as wholly convincing, but to be fair his backstory was so very convoluted it's no wonder. The suspenseful plot building was great, but the cliffhanger ending was a bit of a letdown - if Sloley produces a sequel, I'll come back and tack on another star here. Due out 5 November, I thank NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rochelle Siemienowicz

    How should we live in this time of near apocalypse? Withdraw and shut out the worst, while the rest of the world burns? Or face it, fight it, and be a part of the 'disaster'? This sensitive, convincing and very relevant coming of age story is set within the confines of an intentional community of rich 'preppers' who are literally building a wall around their idyllic ranch. The central character, Marlo, a young woman raised by overprotective parents, yearns for adventure and the chance to make a How should we live in this time of near apocalypse? Withdraw and shut out the worst, while the rest of the world burns? Or face it, fight it, and be a part of the 'disaster'? This sensitive, convincing and very relevant coming of age story is set within the confines of an intentional community of rich 'preppers' who are literally building a wall around their idyllic ranch. The central character, Marlo, a young woman raised by overprotective parents, yearns for adventure and the chance to make a meaningful contribution, yet knows this will break her parents' hearts. Well-written and nicely paced, the story rarely takes us outside the compound, instead letting disturbing hints of impending apocalypse leak in by text message or online news, and so we remain focused on the character's choices and conflicts. Don't expect graphic apocalypse porn or instructions on how to prep for future. This is a great debut novel, and well worth a read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carol Kean

    Beautiful prose from a talented author, with well-defined characters, distinct and memorable! My Kindle is full of passages I highlighted for the insights, imagery, extraordinary ideas, and rich details. I love the way the world outside one microscosm of humanity, modeled in part after an ecovillage with "intentional communities" and committees voting on whether to allow new members in, but curiously isolated and insulated from the outside, even while taking advantage of forays to the outside fo Beautiful prose from a talented author, with well-defined characters, distinct and memorable! My Kindle is full of passages I highlighted for the insights, imagery, extraordinary ideas, and rich details. I love the way the world outside one microscosm of humanity, modeled in part after an ecovillage with "intentional communities" and committees voting on whether to allow new members in, but curiously isolated and insulated from the outside, even while taking advantage of forays to the outside for supplies, because the community is not entirely self-sustaining. The visionary founders have created a sort of Utopia, a beautiful place, sheltered from the rest of the world, which they refer to as The Disaster, which is darkly comic. And acrimonious. The story unfolds gradually, vividly, (did I mention with rich detail? Lots and lots of rich detail?), and in spite of the lovely prose, I started skimming once I got to the middle. A somewhat creepy, controlling family friend and founding member, Kenneth, takes up a lot of Marlo's time and attention, but he offers her plenty of perks (access to inner-sanctum knowledge, e.g.). He's old enough to be her father but (again, kind creepily) enamored of her. She's old enough at age 25 to be sexually active, but she has to sneak around and lie about the one-night stands she occasionally scores out there in "The Disaster," and when nothing comes of these, one wonders why so many pages were devoted to a certain person I'll leave unnamed (no spoilers!). It took the entire first one-third of the novel for the newcomer to arrive, Wolf, the mysterious young man who is roughly the only person around who's Marlo's age, so she is assigned the job of showing him around the place while he's being vetted as a potential member. He has a lot of stories from the outside ("The Disaster') to tell, and the Inside starts looking less like a paradise to Marlo the more he talks. Marlo's doting parents are more than a little controlling and overly protective of their adopted child. Marlo often thinks of the Chinese parents who had to give her up, which had me thinking this foreshadowed a plot twist, but maybe there's a Book Two coming. I hope so, because this story ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. This isn't a spoiler because it's in the blurb: "Marlo has a choice: stay in the only home she’s ever known—or break away, taking its secrets of survival with her." For me, the secrets she would take with her are nothing we as readers could have anticipated. The air of mystery regarding these secrets seemed odd, given what they turned out to be. Maybe I've read too many other post-apocalyptic novels. Marlo was hard for me to like, but I figured that was because she has quite a character arc to undergo. In the end, did she mature and become the heroic young woman I anticipated? Well, let's just say Marlo departs from the hero's journey that most readers have come to expect. The novel feels a bit long to me, but I've been reading more short stories in the past few years and not as many novels, so I'm coming starting to prefer short and punchy tales, in spite of my lifelong love of things literary and leisurely.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    ”If you blinkered your view of the world, focusing only on the most encouraging signs of continuity, no matter how anomalous, you could pretend for whole stretches of time that nothing bad was happening.” Disasters Children follows the story of a tight knit community who have invested their life’s savings into prolonging a project that will see them through to the other side of the end of the world. Referring to the outside world already as ‘The Disaster’, those living in The Ranch are focused so ”If you blinkered your view of the world, focusing only on the most encouraging signs of continuity, no matter how anomalous, you could pretend for whole stretches of time that nothing bad was happening.” Disasters Children follows the story of a tight knit community who have invested their life’s savings into prolonging a project that will see them through to the other side of the end of the world. Referring to the outside world already as ‘The Disaster’, those living in The Ranch are focused solely on saving their existence through new avenues of farming, breeding livestock and ultimately a new way of living to pass this new and cleaner way of life onto the next generation. Within The Ranch are many different characters with different backgrounds, there are doctors, architects, builders, farmers, scientists, etc. Everyone plays their part and everyone obeys the rules knowing they are for their own good. Marlo, adopted at a young age by her over-protective-and-doting-parents who are among the founders of this project, has never lived outside of the Ranch unlike pretty much everyone else there. Her childhood friends, Alex & Ben, left the community and are not to be spoken of but Marlo keeps in touch from time to time, hearing their tales of saving the planet and fighting the governments. Marlo must decide what will make her stay and what will make her leave. I’ll be honest, I nearly gave up on this book. At the start it was tedious and lacking any kind of mystery that I found myself quickly disinterested and wanting to start something else. However, I didn’t. For some reason, and not because of my sheer hate for quitting a book, I was drawn to elements of the story I had begun to read. Although it seemed like not much was going on with the characters, also I didn’t particularly like the protagonist, there was this curiosity within the Ranch system that I needed to find out more. Thankfully the book picked up once a stranger arrived to the Ranch shrouded in his own mysterious past. At the same time we start to learn about the inward battle that Marlo faces, to leave or to stay? Perhaps the first 30% of this book being rather dull and slow was part of the point since Marlo later expresses in the book how before she met Wolf her life was boring and monotonous. As the book progresses we learn how sheltered Marlo has been, although she denies it and fights this fact all the time, it’s clear to see that she has had everything given to her all her life. Living within the ‘gated community’ of the Ranch, Marlo has had a rather privileged upbringing. Her adoptive parents, who smother her with love and kindness, have always given her whatever she wanted. Only the elite of society get to live in this egalitarian community since you have to pay a pretty hefty fee to get in and to stay, your life savings become the foundation of what holds the Ranch community together so Marlo has never wanted for anything, hasn’t even had to pay for anything in order to have what she wants. It makes sense that Marlo would want to experience a different kind of life having only ever known one thing. She is desperate for a chance to leave and see the world for herself, ‘the disaster’, but her father has been sick for years and she faces guilt every time she considers having to leave them behind, not to mention the fact that it would break their hearts for their only daughter to leave what they feel is the only answer to their survival. Disasters Children goes on to explore the lengths we will go to, however unorthodox, to keep our loved ones close and safe. It also raises questions about what each of us will do once the real disaster, that we know is imminent, comes. Will we sit and cower in our fancy homes hoping that bricks and mortar and intelligence will protect us or will we stand up for what we know is right and try to make a change. A poignant and timely novel for sure. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. As the world dies, a woman must choose between her own survival and that of humankind. Raised in a privileged community of wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranch I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. As the world dies, a woman must choose between her own survival and that of humankind. Raised in a privileged community of wealthy survivalists on an idyllic, self-sustaining Oregon ranch, Marlo has always been insulated. The outside world, which the ranchers call “the Disaster,” is a casualty of ravaging climate change, a troubled landscape on the brink of catastrophe. For as long as Marlo can remember, the unknown that lies beyond the borders of her utopia has been a curious obsession. But just as she plans her escape into the chaos of the real world, a charismatic new resident gives her a compelling reason to stay. And, soon enough, a reason to doubt—and to fear—his intentions. Now, feeling more and more trapped in a paradise that’s become a prison, Marlo has a choice: stay in the only home she’s ever known—or break away, taking its secrets of survival with her. Set in a chillingly possible, very near future, Disaster’s Children is a provocative debut novel about holding on to what we know and letting go of it for the unknown and the unknowable. This was an interesting book to read and dystopian worlds are not exactly a subject I had read a lot about or thought about - maybe I should. Disaster is always just a press of a button away it seems and Miss Sloley handled the subject well. The book is well crafted and an easy read and a great book to discuss among friends or a book club as we all have things we need to let go of. (I am watching "Good Omens" as I write this review and it is also a dystopian world like "Disaster's Children" - I think that I need to explore this genre more --- life can be turned on the flick of a switch and can we really handle that??) As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by Millennials on Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it some prayers, as we don't want this to actually happen to any of us 🙏🙏🙏🙏

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lori L (She Treads Softly)

    Disaster's Children by Emma Sloley is a so-so wealthy survivalists story incorporating a dystopian setting with a romance and mystery. Marlo has been raised by her wealthy adoptive parents and a group of other wealthy like-minded survivalists in a secluded community in Oregon. She has lived in the isolated community for 20 years, since she was five. The community was started by doomsday preppers based on the approaching climate change. The residents call the outside world "the Disaster" and altho Disaster's Children by Emma Sloley is a so-so wealthy survivalists story incorporating a dystopian setting with a romance and mystery. Marlo has been raised by her wealthy adoptive parents and a group of other wealthy like-minded survivalists in a secluded community in Oregon. She has lived in the isolated community for 20 years, since she was five. The community was started by doomsday preppers based on the approaching climate change. The residents call the outside world "the Disaster" and although Marlo has made a few trips to the outside world, she has spent most of her time secluded with members of their group. When Marlo finds a dead eagle, which after a search turns into five dead eagles, members are sure it is due to the Disaster outside their ranch. The synopsis makes this novel sound much more interesting dystopian than it is in reality. The technical quality of the writing is good, richly detailed and descriptive, but Sloley loses track of how to take advantage early on of creating mystery, tension, and intrigue in her story. While the writing is important, ultimately I'm reading novels for the story, the plot. There were several chances to increase the apprehension for the reader when Marlo encounters mysteries and then.... she just moves on. The action didn't really start until I was already bored with and tired of Marlo. (The whole buying a designer dress when she visits NYC with her father on a mission to recruit new members to their enclave made no sense, especially when contrasted with her wanting to leave her sheltered home to work for a eco-group.) She is a very young, sheltered 25 year-old. After powering through the novel, the unanswered questions and cliff hanger at the end clinched the lower rating for me. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Amazon Publishing. http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2019/1...

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Newton

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I was expecting this book to be more in the dystopian vein than it is when I started it. While it is set in a near future with environmental disasters looming, most of the horrific events take place off-stage (as it were) and the protagonist, Marlo, and the other residents of the commune in rural Oregon learn about them from the Internet and texts from friends. And the plot is not driven by these events, largely (I don't think this counts as a spoiler, but there are no swarms of zombies infected I was expecting this book to be more in the dystopian vein than it is when I started it. While it is set in a near future with environmental disasters looming, most of the horrific events take place off-stage (as it were) and the protagonist, Marlo, and the other residents of the commune in rural Oregon learn about them from the Internet and texts from friends. And the plot is not driven by these events, largely (I don't think this counts as a spoiler, but there are no swarms of zombies infected with a mutant virus or other typical dystopian devices). Instead the novel is a mystery meets coming-of-age tale, as Marlo (a young woman raised on the ranch since age five) navigates whether to leave its safety for "the Disaster," the ranchers' term for the world outside the commune they have created. The ranch's residents are not your typical survivalists, as entry to it requires a minimum of a quarter of a million dollars. It's an upscale retreat where the well-heeled hope to survive the end of the world, and then rebuild. Her decision of whether to stay or go is complicated by the arrival of a new member of the ranch, Wolf. The mysteries of his background and identity, and also that of the contents of a mausoleum on the property, drive the narrative forward. The book is a page-turner in the best way and while it touches on bigger themes—family, community, class differences, and the ethics of how we respond to situations where only some can survive—it is mostly an engrossing read and hard to put down. Sloley successfully creates an intriguing world in the ranch. The end is entirely satisfying, but it also leaves open the possibility of her revisiting these characters and picking up this story where she has left it off. I hope she does.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I received an ARC of this book with thanks to Little A via NetGalley Marlo is twenty-five years old and has been raised on a survivalist ranch in Oregon, cut off from the rest of the world as it crumbles under the effects of climate change, referred to as 'The Disaster'. However the ranch is only populated by the successful and wealthy from similar circles of society that can buy their way in with membership, they purchase supplies off site (so it's not an entirely self-contained ranch, therefore I received an ARC of this book with thanks to Little A via NetGalley Marlo is twenty-five years old and has been raised on a survivalist ranch in Oregon, cut off from the rest of the world as it crumbles under the effects of climate change, referred to as 'The Disaster'. However the ranch is only populated by the successful and wealthy from similar circles of society that can buy their way in with membership, they purchase supplies off site (so it's not an entirely self-contained ranch, therefore what is the point?) and is inhabited mostly by people over the age of forty, highlighting the problematic scope of keeping such a community active as its population ages. I'm unsure whether my expectations based on the description of the book and the narrative I had envisioned in my head were set too high; my assumptions too lofty to appease. But this just seemed to romanticise circumstance and fortune whilst watching society collapse. There were secrets, but none that were surprising. The characters weren't overly likable; they seemed content to neglect the struggling communities surrounding them to ensure the society they had grown accustomed to had the opportunity to survive within their ranch walls. It was somewhat uncomfortable to read; almost like reading about the effects of climate change through the eyes of the 1% and emerge wanting to pop the bubbles they're living in. The writing style was enjoyable, the book free-flowing and easy to read. I liked the amount of description in Sloley's words and the structure of the plot. I just didn't find this narrative relatable; it just didn't resonate positively with me. 2.5 stars.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    The draw of this book was the apocalyptic theme, doomsday preppers and how a society could function outside the traditional norm. You are drawn into the small society and gradually realize they just aren't likable. The group is made up of professionals such as doctors, journalists and architects - also those with farming knowledge and apparently many of those from a wealthy station in life. The isolated life these people lead could be described as a gated community (think very large scale) where The draw of this book was the apocalyptic theme, doomsday preppers and how a society could function outside the traditional norm. You are drawn into the small society and gradually realize they just aren't likable. The group is made up of professionals such as doctors, journalists and architects - also those with farming knowledge and apparently many of those from a wealthy station in life. The isolated life these people lead could be described as a gated community (think very large scale) where you must apply for membership. They drink wine and eat Brie as they meet on various subjects. There is a journalist who reports news to them as he goes on the Internet; all others aren't restricted from web surfing but they just don't indulge. Marlo is a central character - a 25 year-old who has been sheltered from life. You just can't warm to anyone in the story and honestly, I almost bailed on the book. Once a new character was brought in (he applied, was turned down and then showed up) it gets a tad more interesting. Overall, this didn't engage me enough to seek out more of the author's work. More on the author Emma Sloley Here. This book is my sixth book for the Aussie Author Challenge . This book was published November 5, 2019. Much thanks to Netgalley for the complimentary copy of this book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marco Rafalà

    In Disaster's Children, decades of environmental neglect is finally catching up with humanity. Coastal cities are underwater, displacing millions, turning even American citizens into refugees. Crops are failing, threatening the food supply of nations around the globe. The world is on an inexorable march toward ruin, and only the wealthy have the means to delay the inevitable. On a sprawling ranch in Oregon, families with deep pockets prepare for the end. They wall themselves off from the rest of In Disaster's Children, decades of environmental neglect is finally catching up with humanity. Coastal cities are underwater, displacing millions, turning even American citizens into refugees. Crops are failing, threatening the food supply of nations around the globe. The world is on an inexorable march toward ruin, and only the wealthy have the means to delay the inevitable. On a sprawling ranch in Oregon, families with deep pockets prepare for the end. They wall themselves off from the rest of society. Into this affluent, survivalist compound comes a poor young man. Unable to make the exorbitant investment required of all new members, the ranchers reject him. But one family, with mysterious ties to the newcomer, vouches for him and covers the cost of entry. He befriends their daughter, Marlo, and a romance blooms. Marlo has never lived outside the borders of this privileged community. Her friends, who years ago rejected the commune and are now eco-warriors on the outside, urge her to join them. She finds herself torn between staying in the safety of the ranch or trying to make a difference out in the world. Disaster's Children is a subtle indictment of income inequality. It asks us to question the morality of walls meant to keep out the less fortunate. This dazzling debut believes that a more fair world is not only possible but worth fighting for. That we can still avert a dark future where only the wealthy have access to clean water, food, and shelter.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hana Correa

    Disaster’s Children is a doomsday story revolving around Marlo, a Chinese American woman, whom after being adopted as a toddler has lived her entire life in an insulated community. Now 25, Marlo feels torn between accepting the role of successor to her parents community they have built, and accepting an active role in the ravaged world outside her gates. A world decimated by climate change, it is known simply as the Disaster. Deeply conflicted, Marlo feels obligated to honor the legacy her famil Disaster’s Children is a doomsday story revolving around Marlo, a Chinese American woman, whom after being adopted as a toddler has lived her entire life in an insulated community. Now 25, Marlo feels torn between accepting the role of successor to her parents community they have built, and accepting an active role in the ravaged world outside her gates. A world decimated by climate change, it is known simply as the Disaster. Deeply conflicted, Marlo feels obligated to honor the legacy her family started, but also to give of herself to humanities suffering. Having come to a conclusion that she will leave and join her friends in service to the disaster, a wrench is thrown in her plans when a mysterious stranger shows up. Consumed by unexpected feelings for this new arrival, Marlo wonders if making a life inside the protected community makes more sense than risking life and limb in a forsaken wasteland. This is an eerie tale all the creepier because this could be the path we may walk down if we don’t change our ways. Perhaps the only downside to this story was that I was kinda waiting for the pickup, an oh wow moment, and that never really happened. The pace of the story was steady and consistent, but lacking major, dramatic plot twists. This is a debut novel, and is a competent start. Not sure if this is an ongoing storyline, or if this is a solo effort. It could actually benefit from being a first novel in a series. Thank you to Netgalley for the early copy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Newbill

    I recieved this book as an ARC from good reads. Well what I can say about this book is that the author wrote this book with a thesaurus in hand, choosing, in a lot of cases, the most obscure words possible. I consider myself a very intelligent person and I was constantly looking up the meaning of her words. I felt a loss of the story line because I was having to do this so frequently. I would rather you just say what you mean instead of trying to confuse the reader by using words I have never hea I recieved this book as an ARC from good reads. Well what I can say about this book is that the author wrote this book with a thesaurus in hand, choosing, in a lot of cases, the most obscure words possible. I consider myself a very intelligent person and I was constantly looking up the meaning of her words. I felt a loss of the story line because I was having to do this so frequently. I would rather you just say what you mean instead of trying to confuse the reader by using words I have never heard of. In a lot of cases the words did not actually fit the text. As far as the story line goes, she had a great start for a story that never went anywhere. I did not understand the point of the story. I felt like the story was incomplete. I work at a school so I constantly identify the story elements while reading a book. Plot, character, conflict, theme and setting are the five things I look for. Not sure what the plot was, characters were well developed. Not sure what the true conflict was other than was the main character staying or leaving the ranch. There was no true theme, however the setting was also well developed. Like I said this book had a great beginning but never developed. I would hope the author is planning on this being a series to actually finish the story. However, not sure if I would pick it up after the first book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    Marlo has spent her entire life on the ranch, insulated from the goings-on in The Disaster of the rest of the world. Isolated from the truth of what’s happening outside of their idyllic ranch, she can’t help but be drawn to leave the safety of the ranch when her best friends, ex-ranchers Alex and Ben, notify her that it’s getting bad, quickly, and offer her an opportunity to fight the good fight, instead of hiding behind the walls o the ranch. Prepared to leave, Marlo’s plans are derailed with t Marlo has spent her entire life on the ranch, insulated from the goings-on in The Disaster of the rest of the world. Isolated from the truth of what’s happening outside of their idyllic ranch, she can’t help but be drawn to leave the safety of the ranch when her best friends, ex-ranchers Alex and Ben, notify her that it’s getting bad, quickly, and offer her an opportunity to fight the good fight, instead of hiding behind the walls o the ranch. Prepared to leave, Marlo’s plans are derailed with the abrupt appearance of Wolf, the first person her age to move onto the ranch since Ben and Alex left. As she grows closer to Wolf, and things get worse out in The Disaster, she has to decide where her loyalties lie. Sloley takes on a huge task to create the idyllic ranch her characters reside on, while taking truth from the world today. As we plunge towards total ruin, Sloley competency conveys the fears we all face as bacteria becomes antibiotic resistant, weather shifts due to climate change wreck havoc, and resources become depleted. The Ranch seems like the perfect solution, and Sloley has done a wonderful job answering the question of how her world will play out in the case of electricity becoming inaccessible, natural disaster striking, or any myriad of real life threats striking. I throughly enjoyed Disasters Children, and hope that there’s a follow up novel in the works.

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