An epic dystopian novel that grabs you from the first chapter and hurls you into a world that feels disturbingly believable, Flood World would be great for lovers of fast paced thrillers and sci-fi.
Authors sometimes use a ‘what if’ scenario as inspiration for their writing and in Flood World Tom Huddleston has asked what if the world was ravaged by climate change and rising sea levels and subsequently changed beyond repair. The society he has created is a deeply troubled one in which power has been abused, those with position and wealth are kept safe and protected within The Wall and those without survive in The Shanties scratching out a living in the ruins of a sunken city.
Kara and Joe live in The Shanties, spending their days navigating the dangerous waterways with Joe diving for artefacts that will fetch meagre reward. The two of them are at the mercy of crooks but when they come into possession of a mysterious map their problems mount as they become involved in a world of sinister gangsters and The Mariners, a group of ruthless pirates who rule the seas.
This novel moves from one cliff hanger scene to the next at a rapid pace and has a definite cinematic feel which is to be expected from an author who is a film journalist and has written instalments in The Star Wars: Adventure in Wild Space saga. There are high speed chases, battles in which characters are disposed of in a violent manner and moments of high tension. Now I have to confess this would not be my usual reading fare and it was initially the brilliant map by Jensine Eckwall which drew me in. Maps in books are always a bonus for me and the world depicted in this one intrigued me. Once I started reading, the vivid descriptions made the world in the map come to life and I felt that there was almost a Dickensian atmosphere to The Shanties. Then there are the characters. Kara is a female character around whom, as the story progresses, the plot centres and she is a brave, almost fearless young woman, outspoken and yet caring towards Joe her younger and more naive friend. I found Joe a likeable character with a caring attitude despite his extremely difficult childhood. Having picked the book up not sure what to expect I kept reading because I found that within a few pages I wanted to know what happened to Kara and Joe and became involved in their world and their predicament.
This is an exciting read with moments of high drama and the violence depicted at times makes it a book for the upper end of the middle grade age range though I think it would appeal to teens also. Great for fans of the Alex Rider series.
Many of the themes touched upon make this a good book to share in the classroom at Year 6 and lower secondary levels. Climate change and young people’s reaction to world governments’ response to it is very much in the news at present and Flood World could be used as an effective prompt for discussion on both this subject and marine conservation. The prejudices displayed by different social groups in the story have echoes in discrimination based on race, religion or background so again the book may be a useful conversation starter.
Thank you to Nosy Crow Publishers for providing my proof copy. Flood World is published on 3rd October with a stunning cover illustration by Manuel Sumberac and a great map and illustrations by Jensine Eckhall.
An extract from Flood World is available on the Nosy Crow website