An action-packed glimpse into our future, where sea levels have risen and only the wealthiest manage to live on dry land, inside the Wall…
Book: FloodWorld by Tom Huddleston
Read before: No
Ownership: Proof copy sent free of charge by Nosy Crow Books. All opinions my own.
I was very intrigued when this dropped through my letterbox, especially since it came with a fantastic bath bomb (perfect for setting the scene, and very much appreciated)! The premise of this book sounds a lot like the movie Waterworld, even down to having a gang of pirates who live solely at sea called The Mariners, but the execution is pure James Bond – there’s a plot that must be foiled, bombs ticking down, chase scenes (sometimes with jetskis!)… It also takes the time to think about humanity and society, looking at how inequality will only get worse the more the world’s resources are drained, and how those in charge can spin narratives and limit perspectives to suit their purposes. It’s a really interesting mix, and certainly gripping!
First things first, a bit of a content warning. I really struggled to pin this to an age range. I was expecting middle grade, since Nosy Crow only publishes children’s books, but it has main characters of 11 and 14, and a mostly middle-grade style but a lot of violence. Though there are some deaths in middle grade, they’re rarely the result of the main characters’ actions, and here there is an almost casual attitude to injury and death once the action gets going, including some relatively graphic scenes of injury. It is worth judging the sensitivity of your reader, if giving this to a child – if they’re okay with a Bond film, they should be okay with the level of violence here. Perhaps younger readers should hang on for a few years – this feels about halfway between MG and YA, and is recommended for 10+ on the Nosy Crow website.
That being said, I did still enjoy this book, and those who can handle the violence should really have fun with the fast pace and clever twists. Focus is split between our two main characters, Joe and Kara, who have sort of adopted each other as siblings. They live in the Shanties – a community clinging to the outside of London’s Wall, made up of floating platforms and the top floors of tall buildings. It’s as grim as it sounds, and Kara and Joe have no one else, except for their boss, the Fagin-esque Mr Colpeper, who employs Joe to dive into the ruins of the city below to find artifacts. It’s on one of these missions that Joe becomes accidentally entangled with the Mariners, who are classed as terrorists by those who live on the land. From there, the action never really lets up as both Joe and Kara have to work out who the real bad guys are, and fight for their lives and for the lives of everyone inside the Wall and out.
Kara is the better fleshed-out of the two characters, and I really looked forward to her chapters. She’s 14, and street-smart (despite lack of streets!), and I loved her concern for Joe. She has a good heart, but is willing to make tough decisions, and she ends up having to use every ounce of her wits to survive. Her part in the story is more what I would expect from a YA dystopia – a capable girl somehow thrust into the middle of a revolution. Joe is a lot more naive, at 11 – you could say too naive, given the world he lives in, but it makes sense if you think about how fiercely Kara’s worked to protect him from everything. Joe’s part in the story is more what I would expect from a MG dystopia – he falls into situations but wins out through being essentially a good person. The two of them complement each other nicely, and it’s always good to see a nice, loyal sibling relationship like this.
If you’re on the lookout for an exciting, action-filled read with some thoughtful things to say about the future and the nature of society, this is definitely one you should try! I found it sat a little awkwardly between age ranges – while there is a need for transitional book between MG and YA, I felt there was some tension between the two styles – but it was still an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. Three and a half out of five cats from me!