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Publishers Weekly Review
Lanchester (Capital) imagines coming of age amid the xenophobia and despair of a world ravaged by climate change in his dynamite dystopian novel. Twenty-something Joseph Kavanagh arrives for his mandatory two-year service as a Defender of the Wall surrounding his coastal country. It has survived the massive ecological devastation and sea level rise known as the Change, and its Defenders kill anyone from outside (known as Others) who tries to enter. Kavanagh suffers bracing cold, prolonged tedium, and the exacting demands of his company's captain amid the fear of attack; any Defenders who fail are put out to sea. He gets to know his fellow soldiers and develops an incipient crush on androgynous and initially taciturn Hifa. After a war games training, a young politician warns the Defenders of rumors that the Others are increasingly desperate and some inside the country have been treasonously plotting ways to help them. Cracking under pressure, Hifa offers to have a child with Kavanagh, as parents receive a reprieve from duty, but their plans are obliterated by a surprise attack that has devastating consequences. This terrifyingly resonant depiction of desperation will spark lively discussions about the responsibilities climate change is restructuring, and is electrifying storytelling to boot. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
With the relentless advance of climate change, more and more speculative fiction authors are taking up the challenge of envisioning future scenarios in which environmental devastation has taken its toll on human civilization. In Lanchester's (Capital, 2012) version of this premise, one still-intact island nation has closed itself off from the rest of the world with a heavily guarded wall, protecting them from the desperate Others trying to get in. Lanchester's first-person narrator is a newly enlisted soldier, Kavanagh, whose tour of duty as a wall defender becomes a life-altering experience. Thrown into a world of ubiquitous, concrete, monotonous routine and nonstop icy sea winds, Kavanagh remains keenly aware at all times that, if an Other gets in, the responsible defender must join the Others. His biggest consolations are his growing friendships with Hifa, an androgynous fellow defender, and his stalwart captain as they face their worst nightmares when they are stranded outside the wall. Beautifully written and chillingly plausible, Lanchester's work is dystopian fiction at its finest.--Carl Hays Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
"Nothing before the sea was real": a bleak portrait of a future world shaped by global climate change and refugees desperate for a few square feet of dry land.In the Britain of the near future, there are no beaches. Indeed, as the draftee called Kavanagh tells it, "there isn't a single beach left, anywhere in the world." Kavanagh, nicknamed Chewy by his fellow Defenders, has just one job: He has to guard a spot along the Wall ("officially it is the National Coastal Defense Structure") that now rings the island fortress. It's a preternaturally cold place, miserable, boring, but the stakes are high, for if any of the refugees called "The Others" get over the wall, one of the Defenders is put out to sea, exiled forever. Meanwhile, that Other, when inevitably captured, becomes one of "The Help," essentially enslaved; as the mother of Hifa, a fellow Defender, says, "Another human being at one's beck and call, just by lifting a finger, simply provided to one, in effect one's personal propertythough of course they are technically the property of the state." Kavanagh is diligent if bitter, especially toward the parents who avert their eyes when they see him, ashamed that they let the Change occur, ashamed that their world has come to all this. Unashamed, as impenetrable as the Wall, is the Captain, Kavanagh's commander, who in time reveals that the monolithic state of elites, soldiers, and all the rest is less impervious than it appears, bringing on a sequence of events that finds Kavanagh, Hifa, and the Captain on the outside, in a Hobbesian world, desperate to get back in. Lanchester's view is unblinking, his prose assured, a matter of "if" and "then": This is what happens when the sea rises, this is what happens when an outsider lands in a place where life has little meaning and the only certain things are the Wall, the cold, the water, and death.Dystopian fiction done just right, with a scenario that's all too real. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.