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Denial: A Novel

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A futuristic thriller about climate change by the acclaimed screenwriter of First Cow, Meek’s Cutoff, and HBO’s Mildred Pierce. The year is 2052. Climate change has had a predictably devastating effect: Venice submerged, cyclones in Oklahoma, megafires in South America. Yet it could be much worse. Two decades earlier, the global protest movement known as the Upheavals helpe A futuristic thriller about climate change by the acclaimed screenwriter of First Cow, Meek’s Cutoff, and HBO’s Mildred Pierce. The year is 2052. Climate change has had a predictably devastating effect: Venice submerged, cyclones in Oklahoma, megafires in South America. Yet it could be much worse. Two decades earlier, the global protest movement known as the Upheavals helped break the planet’s fossil fuel dependency, and the subsequent Nuremberg-like Toronto Trials convicted the most powerful oil executives and lobbyists for crimes against the environment. Not all of them. A few executives escaped arrest and went into hiding, including pipeline mastermind Robert Cave. Now, a Pacific Northwest journalist named Jack Henry who works for a struggling media company has received a tip that Cave is living in Mexico. Hoping the story will save his job, he travels south and, using a fake identity, makes contact with the fugitive. The two men strike up an unexpected friendship, leaving Jack torn about exposing Cave—an uncertainty further compounded by the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and a new romance with an old acquaintance. Who will really benefit from the unmasking? What is the nature of justice and punishment? How does one contend with mortality when the planet itself is dying? Denial is both a page-turning speculative suspense novel and a powerful existential inquisition about the perilous moment in which we currently live.


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A futuristic thriller about climate change by the acclaimed screenwriter of First Cow, Meek’s Cutoff, and HBO’s Mildred Pierce. The year is 2052. Climate change has had a predictably devastating effect: Venice submerged, cyclones in Oklahoma, megafires in South America. Yet it could be much worse. Two decades earlier, the global protest movement known as the Upheavals helpe A futuristic thriller about climate change by the acclaimed screenwriter of First Cow, Meek’s Cutoff, and HBO’s Mildred Pierce. The year is 2052. Climate change has had a predictably devastating effect: Venice submerged, cyclones in Oklahoma, megafires in South America. Yet it could be much worse. Two decades earlier, the global protest movement known as the Upheavals helped break the planet’s fossil fuel dependency, and the subsequent Nuremberg-like Toronto Trials convicted the most powerful oil executives and lobbyists for crimes against the environment. Not all of them. A few executives escaped arrest and went into hiding, including pipeline mastermind Robert Cave. Now, a Pacific Northwest journalist named Jack Henry who works for a struggling media company has received a tip that Cave is living in Mexico. Hoping the story will save his job, he travels south and, using a fake identity, makes contact with the fugitive. The two men strike up an unexpected friendship, leaving Jack torn about exposing Cave—an uncertainty further compounded by the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and a new romance with an old acquaintance. Who will really benefit from the unmasking? What is the nature of justice and punishment? How does one contend with mortality when the planet itself is dying? Denial is both a page-turning speculative suspense novel and a powerful existential inquisition about the perilous moment in which we currently live.

30 review for Denial: A Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    4.5 stars. Who the hell is Jon Raymond, and why have I never heard of him before? I mean, I get that he's more of a successful screenwriter, but he's written other novels. And his name is ringing no bells. And I feel it should be, because this was a really good book! Cli fi is a big thing now. That's climate fiction, for the uninitiated. And a lot of those stories are big survival epics of one kind or another. (Bruce Holsinger's recent novel The Displacements being an excellent example of the gen 4.5 stars. Who the hell is Jon Raymond, and why have I never heard of him before? I mean, I get that he's more of a successful screenwriter, but he's written other novels. And his name is ringing no bells. And I feel it should be, because this was a really good book! Cli fi is a big thing now. That's climate fiction, for the uninitiated. And a lot of those stories are big survival epics of one kind or another. (Bruce Holsinger's recent novel The Displacements being an excellent example of the genre.) But Mr. Raymond's book is entirely more subtle. It's set in the middle of this century in the 2050's. And, oh sure, there's an occasional reference to storms or sea level. But this is just a very different approach to illustrating the story, because in the reality of this novel--which really isn't futuristic at all--back in 2032 there were criminal tribunals where fossil fuel executives were tried for crimes against the environment. And these fat cats were locked up in what was, admittedly, a largely symbolic gesture. Except... Except a few of them got away, went into hiding. They were tried and convicted in absentia, and have been known in the two decades since as the "Empty Chairs." Except... Except one of these men has been seen, and that tip has been passed along to the journalist who is the protagonist of this novel. What I've described is simply the backdrop, the story starts here. And despite the modest length of the novel, there's really a lot more going on within it's pages than I've even hinted at. This is a book about ethics and human nature, far more than it is about speculative fiction. This is a quick, little read, but it will leave you thinking long after you've put it down. Honestly, I picked it right back up and read it a second time after I finished reading it, to glean just a little more after reaching the denouement. It would be a great choice for book club discussion. And lucky me--I'm about to launch a book club. Highly recommended!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan Bloom

    This Cli-fi noir thriller is set to be the most important novel of the 21st century. The "On The Beach" of 2020. And very soon, like in 2025, a Hollywood movie. This Cli-fi noir thriller is set to be the most important novel of the 21st century. The "On The Beach" of 2020. And very soon, like in 2025, a Hollywood movie.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patrick King

    “He’d spent his life despoiling the earth, destroying these children’s very future, and now he was giving them this gift of his knowledge. Although one could also say he was taking a gift from them, feeding on their innocent love and attention, finding undeserved absolution in their adoring gazes. He was like a person who’d given up meat late in life, only to pretend none of it had ever passed his lips. What a lucky guy, to avoid the consequences for so long. How Catholic.” Not the book I was exp “He’d spent his life despoiling the earth, destroying these children’s very future, and now he was giving them this gift of his knowledge. Although one could also say he was taking a gift from them, feeding on their innocent love and attention, finding undeserved absolution in their adoring gazes. He was like a person who’d given up meat late in life, only to pretend none of it had ever passed his lips. What a lucky guy, to avoid the consequences for so long. How Catholic.” Not the book I was expecting and not a traditional “thriller,” but instead a measured look at consequence and denial. We can deny our history and we can deny the truth, but reality continues regardless of consequence. The narrative thrives on coincidence, on cosmic happenings. This book works so well because the reader is allowed to fill in the gaps of history after a brief overview of where we are in history and brief glimpses to changes in attitudes. Generally we’re dealing with propulsive narrative focused on telling the story rather than world-building. It feels, appropriately, film-like. And for a book on the climate crisis, it almost reads with hope. Things will go on, people will be held accountable. Will it make a difference? Yes and no. At the end of the day, time grinds on.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Knut André Dale

    Whenever a novel leaves me pondering difficult questions, I feel like I've hit the jackpot! Whenever a novel leaves me pondering difficult questions, I feel like I've hit the jackpot!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shona Tiger

    3.5 Beautiful writing; but I wanted more from the central plot. Bit of an anticlimax.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Csimplot Simplot

    Excellent book!!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Raymond is a good story=teller. This is engaging, imaginative, and probably memorable (time will tell). Recommended. Thanks very much for the free ARC for review!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Not an overwhelming success for me, although I can imagine it being entertaining enough for a small audience. Stylistically, Raymond comes across here as a combination of early-1960s Philip K. Dick and 2010s Don DeLillo. So while there is the occasional line that stops you in your tracks, you more often feel as if you are at a dinner party trapped in the company of someone more enamored with the sound of their own voice than they are interested in telling the most interesting story possible. Story Not an overwhelming success for me, although I can imagine it being entertaining enough for a small audience. Stylistically, Raymond comes across here as a combination of early-1960s Philip K. Dick and 2010s Don DeLillo. So while there is the occasional line that stops you in your tracks, you more often feel as if you are at a dinner party trapped in the company of someone more enamored with the sound of their own voice than they are interested in telling the most interesting story possible. Story-wise, the book is another miner in the rich vein of our current/upcoming climate crisis, more specifically as it relates to individual and collective culpability. There's also a fair amount of musing about cancel-culture/schadenfreude. This also gets delivered to us via the tale of a reporter on the hunt for an unquestionably complicit overlord of the multi-species apocalypse we are informed has occurred. There is enough there even in the above so that it could/should work, and it occasionally does, but not frequently enough. Ultimately, for me, Denial never has a larger or even equal impact to the real-life incident it is very openly emulating, the 1994 Sam Donaldson confrontation/interview with Nazi commander Erich Priebke. I have Raymond to thank for alerting me to that piece of history, but unfortunately the end of his novel isn't as visceral as that footage, compacted by the fact that he sets the final stage in a bullfighting arena, so that the final pages sound more like a lonely kazoo solo than some heraldic brass fight song.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    "Denial” is a thought-provoking read that gathers you in, rolls you along, then drops you off a cliff as you mutter “Wait a minute.” There is a lot to like in this book. Set in 2052, climate change is a fact of people’s lives with torrential downpours, raging fires, and submerged islands. Twenty years earlier a massive global protest movement known as the Upheavals broke the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and ended in Nuremberg-style trials of fossil fuel executives and engineers. Some manage "Denial” is a thought-provoking read that gathers you in, rolls you along, then drops you off a cliff as you mutter “Wait a minute.” There is a lot to like in this book. Set in 2052, climate change is a fact of people’s lives with torrential downpours, raging fires, and submerged islands. Twenty years earlier a massive global protest movement known as the Upheavals broke the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and ended in Nuremberg-style trials of fossil fuel executives and engineers. Some managed to escape but many were put on trial. Jack Henry works for a pretty creepy news outlet, and he gets word that one of the biggest climate criminals lives in Guadalajara. If he is able to aid in capturing this man, it will assure his outlet’s survival and his own job. Jon Raymond unspools this world casually, taking the changes in stride as his characters do. Only poor people eat meat, cars are electric, fires are still burning and the air is murky. Jack questions what value capturing this climate criminal will have, besides his own purpose. Is he selfish? If an arrest is made, will it actually result in punishment, or will a payment be made to the right parties? There are no answers offered up, and the book just stops at 98%.There’s 2% more wrap-up available! I wanted to know more. There could be some very interesting conversations between Jack and his industrialist prey. Very readable and well done. And yes, we were left wanting more.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Baenen

    I was drawn in by the precise and fluid writing style as well as the fully developed characters. I never really felt bored, even when some of the detailed writing got a little heavy handed. I felt immersed in this future world with its questions about personal responsibility, guilt, and consequences for your actions. At first, I thought the ending was a little unsatisfying, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like it continued the exploration of the themes of the novel without being t I was drawn in by the precise and fluid writing style as well as the fully developed characters. I never really felt bored, even when some of the detailed writing got a little heavy handed. I felt immersed in this future world with its questions about personal responsibility, guilt, and consequences for your actions. At first, I thought the ending was a little unsatisfying, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like it continued the exploration of the themes of the novel without being too obvious about it. This was a slow burn, right down to the last paragraph. ARC from NetGalley

  11. 5 out of 5

    TC

    Recommended Review posted at Tzer Island book blog: https://www.tzerisland.com/bookblog/2... Recommended Review posted at Tzer Island book blog: https://www.tzerisland.com/bookblog/2...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    7/17/2022 It's fine. Full review tk at CriminalElement.com. 7/17/2022 It's fine. Full review tk at CriminalElement.com.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Dimoia

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  15. 5 out of 5

    Terrin Haley

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kaye Rhoads

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lira

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Jernigan

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jrschen

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Courtwright

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan Berbec

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  25. 5 out of 5

    Deon

  26. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Peterson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brittni Drahota

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nolan Rabine

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emma Mayer

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barb Nelson

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