Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dystopia Challenge Review #3: The Carbon Diaries 2015

It's the year 2015 and England has been put on mandatory carbon rationing. Laura Brown, a Londoner, documents the year's events in her diary: the shortages, the fear, the natural disasters. She's a teenager struggling with school, a family falling apart, first love (of course) and the impact of rationing. In short, it's teenaged-Bridget-Jones-meets-climate-change.

I vacillated a lot while reading this book--do I like it? Am I finding it a bit average? I just finished it and I'm pleased to say that the overall reaction was like, with certain reservations.

A large chunk of the book is Laura's (often boring) day-to-day affairs: keeping her band together, flunking school, pining over the boy next door. But where the novel really shines is when things go wrong. The droughts, the floods, riots and massive storms. The Gulf Stream is shutting down* and Europe is being subjected to extreme and unpredictable weather patterns. Underpinning this is Laura's anger at the generations that came before her: with every justification, she rails at past polluters and energy-wasters as it is she and her contemporaries that have to pay for their excesses. In effect, she's had her life taken away, with little hope of any sort of (contemporary) career or possibility of travel.

I'm surprised there aren't more novels with climate change as a theme coming out right now. It seems all anyone wants to do is bury their head in the sand with books about vampires, and I'm just as guilty. (No sparkles on my vampires though.) Maybe the whole thing is just too close to home. (As "home" is Earth, it's seems rather ridiculous that we're avoiding the problem, but there you go.)

The Carbon Diaries 2017 will be released in September this year.

*The Gulf Stream is a warm ocean current that heats Europe. As the ice at the poles melt due to global warming, the seas become less saline which could do something nasty to the current and shut it down, possibly triggering the next ice age.


  1. I think it is hard to make dystopia boring - but this one seems to have suceeded? And it has a sequel? Hmmmm.....

  2. It sounds like this might not be the climate change book that gets people going.

  3. I actually found this book quite dull. I really didn't get much of a handle on what the protagonist was actually *like*. In some ways it reminded me of Susan Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It, but without the emotional connection.