Thank you, NetGalley for the chance to read this ebook for free in exchange for an honest review.
I will be honest I have such a guilty pleasure for dystopian worlds due to climate change, this one has the added bonus of being set in a near future Britain.
The book follows fourteen-year-old Mhairi Anne Bain, originally from Scotland but relocated with her parents to Sudan at the time of the global collapse as her mother was a scientist and was working on harnessing the solar energy of the desert there. The story focus on the journey Mhairi takes to get back to the Scottish isle of Arran, where her grandmother lives.
At the start of the book, Mhairi is close to the Scottish border when she comes across an old man walking with a five-year-old boy, and the boy ends up travelling with her. Since the collapse, Scotland is now separate from the U.K. and has its own strict border controls. In order to cross borders in this world, you need papers, and these papers are considered quite valuable and you don't want others to get their hands on it.
The book has been written in such a way as to allow the story to slowly unravel, and with short, choppy chapters, this was a gripping and also worryingly plausible read. The book isn’t only beautifully written, it's raw and energetic, lyrical and beautiful, intense and passionate.
Heads up little spoilers
I found this book to be beautiful but both terrifying and deeply sad. During the book events transpire which result in Mhairi travelling back to England predominantly alone, becoming a different person due to traumatic things which occur on the journey. The book then contradicts all this sadness and despair with a wonderfully written scene in which Mhairi comes across a meadow of wild garlic, eats some bulbs and smells some leaves and she finds herself able to fall asleep without fear
The book also asks important questions and requires the reader to question themselves. 'what would you do?' What would you do if you had limited water, food, and time. Would you share? Would you help those without anything? Or would you turn your back for 'the greater good'?
The book also brings in more that relate to the real world - the refugee crisis is already weakening international alliances and provoking angry public opinion. What will happen when climate change intensifies it? Will countries institute population control measures? Will borders stay as they are?