I was very taken with this novel when I was in high school, and so recently obtained it to see if it was really as good as I recalled. It wasn't.

It opens with one of the most fat-phobic scenes I've ever read, which is saying a lot. The college-age heroine is on a train next to a smelly fat woman, whom, the narrative frequently reminds us, is fat. Yes, fat! Fat fat fat. She's also a sadistic, violent, paranoid, greedy cheat who enjoys watching animals die. And fat. Very fat.

A few pages in, it becomes clear that we're in a dystopian future in which 95% of the population is stoned 75% of the time (actual statistic, not a joke), religion doesn't exist, casual sex and violence abound, and everything sucks in a manner very reminiscent of hysterical magazine articles about how teenagers are going to hell in an online handbasket.

What's most interesting about the book, and what I liked so much in high school, is hugely spoilery despite being revealed fairly early on, as the reveal itself is pretty cool. What I had not recalled was a jaw-dropping scene right at the end which makes it an awesomely depressing book!



It turns out that we're actually in the past, not the future, and Noah is building his ark. I still think this is pretty cool, especially since I love stories where the past turns out to be more technologically advanced than the present.

The heroine, Nikki, hooks up with Sam, Noah's son, who brings her back to his self-righteous family. Sam is black, incidentally. Nikki is white. I thought Cohen was putting all the races on the ark at first, but no, that's it.

This and the other Flood book I've read, L'Engle's Many Waters, struggle with the fact that the entire story makes God seem like a total bastard. Cohen tries to make it OK by portraying the people who don't get on the Ark as evil, complacent, and/or stupid. This does not work very well, though it does make L'Engle's method of saying that God works in mysterious ways look better in comparison.

Both books also feature unicorns, which we know didn't make it on to the Ark. In Cohen's book, there is a unicorn pair, but the female becomes mortally ill and, on the last page, both are euthanized. Yep, unicorn euthanasia! The book would have been an awesomely depressing contender for that alone had I recalled it in time.


Some used copies are available from Amazon: Unicorns in the Rain (An Argo Book)
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