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Audiobook narrated by Megan Hilty.

Dannie Kohan lives her life according to rules and numbers. She has a five year plan, which is all coming together nicely when her boyfriend David proposes right on schedule, and on the same day that she lands her dream job at a top lawyers firm. However, that evening she falls asleep and when she wakes up, she is five years in the future, living at an apartment in a completely different part of town – and apparently with a gorgeous boyfriend named Aaron.

Dannie again falls asleep and wakes up back in her real world with David, and dismisses her experience as a vivid dream,. But she can’t forget about Aaron, the mysterious man from the future, and when she meets him in very unexpected circumstances, things start to get complicated.

I am in two minds about this book. I really enjoyed the first part of the book, and although I am not generally into fantasy or storylines which are entirely implausible, the dream/premonition part of the story was well done and did not bother me. I loved Dannie’s relationship with her impulsive and beautiful best friend Bella, and I also really liked her fiance David. Given that the book is narrated by Dannie, she is the character who we get to know best, and at times she irritated me, as she had such a controlling nature, but overall she was a good hearted and kind person.

The story does take a tragic turn which I won’t reveal here, and although it was very sad, it was well written. Everything that happened – apart from the dream at the beginning of course – seemed believable and I did get drawn into the lives of these fictional characters and was eager to know how the beginning of the story would tie into the end. And that was the problem for me. I liked most of the ending, but I did not like how those two particular parts of the story came together and it did spoil it somewhat for me.

There’s no doubt though that Rebecca Searle can write and can draw the reader/listener in, so although the ending left me with mixed feelings, I would try another book by her and would cautiously recommend this one.

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Margaret Atwood specialises in what she calls speculative fiction (and what most of us call dystopian fiction). In this book, – the first in a trilogy – she introduces us to Snowman, a man who has survived the apocalypse and is now living in a tree with a few meagre possessions. He is somehow responsible for the children of Crake (I don’t want to explain too much about this as it will give away vital plot points), who in turn do their best to look after him. Stripped down to it’s bare bones, there is not much to the plot – Snowman decides to walk to somewhere where he knows there should be food and weaponry available to him, and then comes back again. However, in between the chapters telling the (future) present, are chapters where the story of what exactly happened to Earth is explained.

Atwood explains the role of Snowman’s childhood friend Crake, and Oryx, the woman they both loved. Their teenage pre-apocalyptic world is one of strange animal hybrids, violence and child porn as everyday entertainment, and communities divided into gated compounds, separate from the dangerous ‘pleeblands’ where everyone else lives.

I think Margaret Atwood is a genius, I really do and I have thoroughly enjoyed other books by her. But somehow this one took me a long time to get into. The story is fine – yes, not much happens, but it still has enough to keep it interesting. But I couldn’t help a small sense of relief when I reached the end, and I think it may be because I couldn’t really identify with – or even much like – any of the characters. Snowman is about the most sympathetic, as you would expect given that the story largely focuses on his point of view. Crake was a hugely intelligent, but revolting example of a human being, and Oryx was cold, cruel in her own way and too far removed from the reader for me to care much about her.

I do have the other two books in the series and will probably read them at some point, but for now I am looking forward to taking a bit of a break from Snowman’s story.

 

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This novel is set in London, just over 100 years into the future. And what a future it is!  After a great flood came in 2014, London is practically under water.  Disease is rife (with child mortality rates at 50%), promiscuity is not only accepted, but actively encouraged, and privacy is illegal.  Furthermore, the vaccination of children is a heinous crime, as it is thought to be against ‘The Love’s’ will.

Living in this depressing city is Trafford, an ordinary man, with an extraordinary yearning – he wants privacy.  He hates the fact that literally every aspect of a person’s life has to be loaded onto the internet for anybody to read (it is expected that people put up videos of childbirth, sex and any other intimate acts), and that people are expected to keep a blog revealing all of their innermost thoughts.  

Trafford and his wife Chantorria (some of the least unusual character names in the book) have recently had a daughter, and with the infant mortality rates being so high, Trafford decides to have her vaccinated, risking great danger and the threat of death if this is discovered, as vaccination is severely frowned upon because it is considered ‘against God’s will’.  In doing so, he becomes involved in seeking out others who may feel the same way as he does – who want to think for themselves, rather than be told what to think. 

I have yet to discover a Ben Elton novel that I haven’t enjoyed. This one is too funny and irreverent to be scary or disturbing in the way that novels like Nineteen Eighty Four of Brave New World are, but nonetheless, Elton does make some interesting points and observations about where the current obsession for celebrity gossip and reality television could lead.  It’s not a believable story, but I don’t believe that it was ever intended to be.

Trafford is the most believable character in the story – as it is told from his point of view, this is probably to be expected.  Many of the other characters are stereotypes and caricatures, but this is not a criticism – and it is possible to recognise some of their behaviour as typical of the type of person they are based on.

So all in all, if you are looking for a serious study about humanity and a dystopian society, this is not the book for you. But if you are looking for an entertaining and light hearted read with some very pointed observations, this comes highly recommended.

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This is a very short book (91 pages) which I read in one sitting, and which is perfect for a lazy afternoon (which was when I read it).  The book tells the story of a man, who is always referred to simply as The Time Traveler, who invents a time machine, which takes him to the year 802,701.  There, he finds that the human race has evolved into two species’ – the Eloi and the Morlocks.  On the face of it, the Eloi seem to live a wonderful existence, filled with pleasure.  However, the time traveler discovers that, as they want for nothing, and therefore have nothing to strive for, the Eloi have also seemingly lost the ability for intelligent thought.  (Without goals, there is no need for strategy and forethought).  However, there is a darker reality lurking underneath the surface (both literally and figuratively), in the Morlocks – a species who only come out in the darkness, and who inspire fear in the Eloi.

To say more would be to give away too much of the plot, although it is at this point that the story really began to take root.  Suffice to say that I ended up feeling more sympathy with the Morlocks than the Eloi; I have no idea if that is what the author originally intended.

However, I do believe that this book may have revealed Well’s fears for the future; if the upper classes never have to do anything for themselves, they will not be able to look after themselves, and therefore must rely on the lower classes to provide everything they need.But in return, they must give something back to the providers…as demonstrated in quite a clear fashion in this story.

It’s hard to describe how I felt about this book.  It is of course a classic, and with good reason.  Yet, I found it very difficult to engage with any of the characters.  However, I did enjoy it and would definitely recommend it to others.  It is one that I have kept, and will almost certainly reread at some point in the future, as I think it could well be a book that becomes more enjoyable with each reading.  It definitely made me consider reading more books by the same author.  It’s certainly clear that Wells had a vivid and intelligent imagination.

(For more information about the author, please click here.)

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