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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Haunting Watery Dystopian Asks Big Questions

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Why do you cling to the end, when the beginning is waiting?" (13)

Lalla Paul has never experienced a normal life in a safe, stable environment.  She's grown up in a London ravaged by the deadly effects of global warming, scarcity, disease, fear, and rigid government control.  As the daughter of wealthy, influential parents, the 16-year-old has been sheltered in her parents' apartment, protected from the violence and chaos that grows ever more prevalent on the streets outside her windows.  Although her mother has done her best to educate Lalla, the teen knows very little about life beyond the walls of her well-guarded flat.

For years, Lalla's father, Michael, has been planning the family's exit strategy.  He's had a ship built and stocked with enough supplies to support 500 people on a voyage over the open sea.  Through a careful selection process, Michael has chosen the smartest, most skilled passengers—the kind of people who will be most useful in building a new society.  

When push comes to shove, Michael's plan is put into frantic action.  Suddenly, Lalla finds herself adrift in a floating city that is not quite the utopia it seems to be.  As she comes to understand what is really going on, she'll have to decide what she truly wants for her future and how far she's willing to go to make it happen.

The Ship—a debut novel by English writer Antonia Honeywell—tells a dystopian tale that's both haunting and compelling despite being skimpy on action.  It's more of an introspective story, almost an allegory (we've got a Noah's Ark archetype, plus a Michael/Adam character—a deeper reader would likely find plenty of religious symbolism here) about leaving expectations behind and starting over in a brave, new world.  Regardless of how you interpret it, the novel definitely raises thought-provoking questions.  I liked that about it, even if I found the characters (especially Lalla) irritating and the plot a bit ho-hum.  Overall, though, I enjoyed The Ship.  It's not the kind of book I'm going to be shouting about from the rooftops, but it ended up being a decent read for me.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a teensy bit of Icebreaker by Lian Tanner)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. Well it sounds interesting but just from your synopsis I’m irritated with Lalla. That’s not good.

  2. Oh, no. An irritating main character and a ho-hum plot? As much as I love Dystopian novels, think I'm going to have to pass on this one.

  3. The religious symbolism sounds interesting. But I don't know if I could deal with Lalla. She doesn't sound like someone I was to read for the whole novel.

  4. Glad it was a decent read for you even if you didn't love it.


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