Thursday, November 12, 2009

Review of The Carbon Diaries 2015

Lloyd, Saci. The Carbon Diaries 2015. Holiday House, 2009.

One could think of this book as the British version of Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone, except the culprit is not an astronomical catastrophe but rather global warming and our own wasteful ways. England imposes a drastic carbon rationing on itself, which of course does not stop a series of floods and droughts - and life as 16-year-old Laura knew it is over. Private cars become an endangered species, no one hops a plane to the Continent anymore, all food is locally produced, and water and power are rationed to the point of stinky discomfort. What's a teenage musician to do, especially when her family implodes? Laura's answer is to obsess about her hopeless crush, worry about her family, start doing really poorly in school, and rock on whenever possible.

Oh, and she writes in her diary. Whether comically dissing her parents a la Georgia Nicolson or describing the terror of getting caught in a riot, her voice is distinct and compelling. Actually, what it reminded me of more than anything the narrative voice of Diary of a Worm - Laura and this small earthworm share a penchant for dry observances that are funny as all get out.

Strangely enough, I just reviewed a book for SLJ called Raider's Ransom by Emily Diamand (it came out last year in the UK as Reavers' Ransom and will be published here in December) that takes place about 200 years after just such global warming-created catastrophes as the flooding of London take place. Can't publish my review here until it appears in SLJ, but I did give it a good review.

Unlike the Pfeffer books, I never felt Laura's dilemma in an incredibly visceral way - although things get bad, there isn't a feeling that civilization, or at least London, is doomed. And frankly, that was fine with me, especially as I know I'd be one of the first victims of any Great Die-off. Considering this is a first novel, The Carbon Diaries 2015 is an excellent effort - smart, witty, and thought-provoking. Highly recommended for ages 13 and up.

1 comment:

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