Top critical review
7 people found this helpful
A curate's egg.
on 3 November 2004
I was seduced by the short extract on the jacket and bought this book, not realising it was aimed at a teenage market. I am very pro Scottish fiction (and sci-fi) and carried on reading anyway.
The introduction of the book is mesmerising. I was dazzled by the idea of our first ancestors looking at the ground and calling it "Ur", which evolved over millennia into "Earth". This scene-setting still gives me goosebumps.
Likewise, the early part of the book works well. We meet Mara's family, her island which is slowly drowning, and learn a bit about her. The description of the extreme weather is chilling, and I particularly like the scene where she enters the drowned phone box (this scene is printed on the jacket). When she and a few hardy others leave the island in a small flotilla, however, the book loses its focus somewhat, and I found the descriptions of New Mungo irritating and distracting.
There is a symbolic theme underlying the narrative which is quite compelling. I did enjoy trying to spot the references to Glasgow as I went along, although I am certain that I missed a few. I am oddly uncomfortable with the use of place names for personal names (although I find Clayslaps as good a baby name as any I have ever heard).
For an adult, this book is a curate's egg, with several good features and powerful images. It borrows from other fiction with similar features, notably "Waterworld". Some points don't stand up to scrutiny, however, such as the fact that many parts of Glasgow are above the water when the rest of the surrounding terrain (including many mountains such as Ben Nevis) is drowned. I found some sequences of the narrative seemed contrived, and some parts were just a little weird.
The book describes one possible effect of global climate change without preaching, and for this alone it deserves great commendation: I hope our kids will take the point.
Ultimately, however, I left this book feeling a little disappointed, with a vague sense of anticlimax. According to her website, Julie Bertagna has been deluged with requests for a sequel, and is currently writing one (she certainly left plenty of loose threads to tie up). Unfortunately, I regret I won't be buying it.