Global warming is rapidly changing the world in Lloyd's accomplished first novel, in which the United Kingdom, still reeling from the Great Storm, becomes the first nation on Earth to institute mandatory carbon rationing, a 60% decrease in all energy use. Sixteen-year-old Laura just wants to pass her classes, play with her band and maybe catch the eye of cute neighbor Ravi. With the weather tipping wildly out of control, she and her highly dysfunctional family ("We are officially the bad family on the street now, the family that other families call the cops on") must contend with blackouts, water shortages and riots, followed by torrential rains and the flooding of London. This gritty eco-thriller, made up of Laura's diary entries throughout the year 2015, features a nicely developed sense of place, complex and believable characters and an all-too-plausible near-future scenario, as Britons make do, pull together and triumph over adversity. Fans of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother and Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now should find this book a gripping read. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Shelly Shaffer
In Saci Lloyd's debut, she captures the drama of what might occur if the world were forced to go on carbon rationinga sort of point system in which each item that a person buys or uses is assigned points according to how much pollution it causes during its use or production. The main character, Laura, is a sixteen-year-old who lives in London, England, in the year 2015 and writes a diary during the first year of carbon rationing. She chronicles the upheaval in her family caused by the rationing. Laura's sister, Kim, defies the rationing rules by using too much, is put on ration probation as a result, and gets caught up in a ration smuggling ring. The rationing brings to the forefront the existing problems between Laura's mom and dad. During the year of rationing, her dad loses his job and his identity; he starts to farm in the backyard, which drives Laura's mother crazy. Eventually, Laura's mom moves out and joins a women group that trains women to be more self-sufficient. In addition to her family's problems, Laura has some problems of her own. Laura begins the novel by having a crush on the boy next door, but he does not seem interested in her, and Laura has trouble talking to him. Also, Laura is in a band, and the relationship she has with the people in her band is another area of stress, as the band tries to book shows at various venues across the English countryside. At times, the plot of the book jumps around and seems to lose focus, but, overall, the book conquers an important theme that students should consider. Reviewer: Shelly Shaffer
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up
Laura Brown's diary of 2015 charts the first year of carbon rationing in Great Britain. The global climate has declined so precipitously that the country has made the unilateral decision to cut its carbon emissions by 60 percent. Everyone is issued a card that tracks their allowable use of carbon for the year. This limits utility usage, travel, and purchase of anything that has been transported over a distance, including food. Laura has to cope with limits to hygiene, cell phone use, and practice time with her band and listen to lectures on reducing energy consumption. Her father's job as Head of Travel and Tourism at a local college is eliminated. Freezing weather is followed by hot drought and flooding to finish off the year. Her family initially reacts badly to the strains-her parents fight, her dad starts drinking but then tries his hand at home agriculture, her mom joins the Women Moving Forward club, and her sister, Kim, disappears for days at a time and almost dies when a cholera epidemic hits the city. The book refers to itself as an eco-thriller but it doesn't present the usual over-the-top characters and hardly believable events of so many books in that genre. It works so well because of all the normal craziness of life that has nothing to do with the environmental disaster. The family crisis, the colorful supportive neighbors, the crush on the cute boy next door, and the triumphs of Laura's band lend the story verisimilitude that will give it appeal far beyond the usual thriller for doom-and-gloom junkies.-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
With eco-thrillers rapidly becoming the new vampire romance, it takes a special one to stand out. Laura Brown's diary of her life in the year after the Great Storm, the year England rations carbon use, transcends the genre's didacticism. While London suffers floods, droughts, riots and disease, Laura's self-centeredness-she just wants to play with her band and date cute Ravi from next door-keeps her story grounded. The everyday matter of young-adult fiction, from dating to parental divorce to failing grades, are equally meaningful when set against a backdrop of cholera and black markets. The diary format contributes to readers' sense of the frenetic pace of Laura's collapsing world, and the solidly realized London setting provides contrast to the Blitz Spirit of World War II. While the adults of London revert to crazed, self-obsessed philosophies, the teenagers just try to create a present and a future in a world destroyed. None of these Londoners is perfect, least of all Laura, but in a hellish year they all learn to get over themselves. Enough, at least. (Science fiction. 13-15)