Today I'm reviewing Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich. A little backstory on how I came across this novel...I used to waitress at a seafood restaurant about a year ago (jealous, eh, eh?), and ended up waiting on Nathaniel and his friends, who had made a trip to Maine. We got on the topic of writing and books, of course, and Nathaniel mentioned his novel. I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I have just now read it. My how I wish I had read it earlier.
About Odds Against Tomorrow:
New York City, the near future: Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. The business operates out of an empty office in the Empire State Building; Mitchell is employee number two.
He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming.
As Mitchell immerses himself in the mathematics of catastrophe--ecological collapse, war games, natural disasters--he becomes obsessed by a culture's fears. Yet he also loses touch with his last connection to reality: Elsa Bruner, a friend with her own apocalyptic secret, who has started a commune in Maine.
Then, just as Mitchell's predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan. Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit. But at what cost?
As some of you may know, Since 2011(ish), I have kept a book journal with all of the books I've read in it. Next to each book, alongside the author and date-read, I put one of three things: a smily face, a sad face, or a "meh" face. Odds Against Tomorrow got three smily faces.
Odds Against Tomorrow takes a beautiful twist on apocalyptic novels. It is not just ruin and death and apocalypse. Odds Against Tomorrow focuses on the characters and the beautiful, terrible world around them. It asks the alarming question, what if? What if your life is tied to your death? Rich writes exquisitely, and there isn't an unnecessary word. Every sentence builds the story, the characters and the setting.
The ending of the novel is one that you have to experience, and it is one of the few apocalyptic novels that has left me feeling...happy. Perhaps that's a strong word, but I don't lie. The novel had a "wrapping-up" sensation that I just can't get over. I think that's what you call a book hangover?
Anyway, I suggest that you not miss out on this whirlwind of a story, and I sincerely hope that you bump it to the top of your to-read list. Nathaniel, hats off to you on writing a beautiful story that I'll be reading again; and trust me, I'm not one to reread just anything.
Check up on Nathaniel on his Twitter and website, and purchase Odds Against Tomorrow here.
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