The novel’s laser focus is on our present moment, and reading The Displacements is like bingeing a monthslong news cycle in six hours. It plods along boasting all the shock and awe of constant updates, yet by the end the narrative seems canned. There are bad characters and good ones; the latter either learn their lessons in time or are martyred victims of circumstance. The climax involves flying bullets and tornadoes. Then the clouds part, revealing a somewhat sunnier financial situation for the Larsen-Halls than previously forecast ... Although the novel’s subjects could not be more important, its suffocating eventfulness doesn’t leave room for much besides America’s steadily swelling storm. There are stoked resentments and greedy politicians and heartless corporate actors and sociologists and artists and enough guns to outnumber them all. Each is viewed through the lens of a spiraling speculative logic in which disaster is about to happen, has already happened and is happening, all at once. The air is heavy from the start, making the tragedies that do occur in the narrative so light they drift above our heads ... This sort of atmosphere usually prevails in the media, rather than in the pages of a novel. It’s increasingly possible to pass a good deal of one’s time scrolling through the worst moments of other people’s lives, as if the eye of the hurricane is a sort of dance partner one must keep in step with. In this way The Displacements is a thorough translation to fiction of what it can feel like to live right now. It’s hypnotic, it’s upsetting, there are stakes, you still haven’t been blown away.
Holsinger has built an apocalyptic plot on ground more secure than the foundations of many Miami homes ... Holsinger brings the cost of climate change home ... I gripped the covers of this book as though it might be blown from my hands. Indeed, the disaster that The Displacements whips up isn’t just powerful enough to smear Miami off the map; it’s powerful enough to wipe away our naive confidence that such a disaster isn’t coming for us ... If Holsinger is as subtle as a category 6 hurricane, he also twists his novel around a strange tension: While mocking the elitism that marks our national response to natural disasters, he’s also exploiting that elitism for dramatic effect. This is, after all, a work of suburban horror carefully engineered to scratch the anxieties of upper-middle-class White readers...In such self-conscious moments, The Displacements feels as though it’s deconstructing itself, challenging not just Daphne’s privilege but its own ... And Holsinger offers incisive speculation about the way such an existential crisis might reshape our political rhetoric and create a new class of 'undeserving' refugees to disdain and cut off.
... cinematic ... shines when it portrays alliances and factions amid the mass of people so suddenly brought together ... Too often the novel is beset by sloppy clichés (smiles flash, jaws stiffen) and disaster-movie dialogue...Yet The Displacements raises other, deeper questions about the place and purpose of “cli-fi.” What is gained or lost when a mainstream novel about mass migration after a mega-storm chooses to center the tribulations of an affluent white family – when we know that our climate emergency disproportionately affects marginalized communities, including the poor and people of color? Does this novel’s 'riches to rags' story convey the actual potential harm of a fictional storm like Luna? Or does the author wish to reach a reading population who might still believe in a 'normal' that can, or should, return? ... These questions, more than the Larsen-Halls’s journey, make The Displacements a book worth picking up.