The New Wilderness – Diane Cook


A group of strangers escape a polluted city and learn to live in the wild as part of a study 

✚ “This dystopian-type novel features a polluted and over populated city and a location which is the only place in which nature still exists: the Wilderness State. A group of people, led by Bea and her daughter Agnes, live a nomadic life there as part of a nameless study.

“There are a lot of topical themes raised in this book, about environmental concern, our relationship with nature, social change, mother-daughter relationships, what our children will inherit from us, and back-to-basics survival. Plot markers revealed early on were portrayed with a no-nonsense sensibility and brutal acceptance about life and death in a harsh environment.

“However it soon become apparent that there were many holes in the plot, too many to mention here. Plus I felt let down by the characterisation. Stereotyping and dramatisation led to unbelievable interactions and I just couldn’t relate to the characters, nor accept some of the actions they took. I felt completely distant from the story about half way through and only finished the book because I had to for Bookerthon.” – Rachel


✚ “As we get to the end of 2020 this book seemed strangely prophetic – the storyline felt appropriate for the time in which we are currently living. And with climate change being such a pressing societal issue it seemed inevitable that at least one of the shortlisted books would be dealing with it.
Unfortunately I went into The New Wilderness with two absolutely stunning novels as benchmarks. Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood is dystopian fiction at its scary and nuanced best, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy takes the reader on an absolutely desperate journey alongside a father and son with the world around them in tatters. 
“The New Wilderness is in the same genre but felt different to these two books. I think it was because I felt slightly removed from what was happening in The New Wilderness. Everything was laid out quite clearly so it didn’t feel like there was much room for the reader’s interpretation. Therefore I didn’t become as invested in the characters or their lives as I would have liked.
“In saying that, it was still interesting reading about another author’s terrifying take on humanity’s possible future.” – Suzy

Published 2020
416 pages

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