Clean air A novel

Sarah Blake

Book - 2022

"In a near-future world where tree pollen has made outdoor air unbreathable, a woman's safe but tedious life is thrown into turmoil when she witnesses a murder and her young daughter starts sleep-talking about the killer"--

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Dystopian fiction
Science fiction
Mystery fiction
Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2022.
Main Author
Sarah Blake (author)
First Edition
Physical Description
310 pages : 21 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Blake turns the passion of twentieth-century environmentalists rallying behind a "save the rainforest" movement and strapping themselves to sequoias to protest deforestation into irony in this richly imagined twenty-first-century dystopian exploration of the immutable transformation of the physical world. In the aftermath of an ecological crisis called the Turning, Izabel, her husband Kaito, and their daughter Cami are adapting to a restrictive habitat where the very air has turned lethal, thanks to toxic pollen produced by an overabundance of trees. The family feels safe only within their hermetically sealed plastic-bubble home, until a serial killer begins slashing the pods, exposing occupants to the poisonous external atmosphere. When Cami starts talking in her sleep, Izabel realizes Cami's nocturnal dialogues foreshadow future attacks and subsequently puts herself and her family's future at risk to identify the killer. Award-winning poet and fiction writer Blake follows her heralded debut novel, Naamah (2019), with a bleak yet engrossing and suspenseful tale that simultaneously delivers a lyrical homage to motherhood and a piercing vision of the fragility of humankind's relationship with the natural world.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Blake's fascinating, idiosyncratic second novel (after 2019's Namaah) constructs a haunting postapocalyptic world with which a withdrawn woman must finally come to terms when someone starts killing local families. In 2032, trees began producing more pollen than human bodies could handle, killing billions of people. Ten years later, the survivors of what's called the Turning carefully navigate a world where it's not safe to be outside for more than seconds at a time. Among them is Izabel, who meanders through her days feeling vaguely dissatisfied with life with her husband, Kaito, and four-year-old daughter, Cami. When Cami develops inexplicable sleep issues around the same time a serial killer starts slashing the plastic sheeting enclosing nearby homes and letting in the toxic air, Izabel ends up in the best position to solve the mystery, following clues in the phrases Cami mutters in her sleep. The novel's tone is restrained, sometimes verging on mannered, which belies the gradual but effective accumulation of emotions and images. The skillful blend of postapocalyptic science fiction, supernatural murder mystery, and domestic drama is unexpected and entirely engrossing. (Feb.)

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Review by Library Journal Review

First in the "Kithamar" trilogy, set in an ancient city with a blood-bathed history, Nebula-nominated, Hugo-winning Abraham's Age of Ash tells the story of a thief named Alys whose hunt for her brother's murderer reveals secrets that could bring down rulers (40,000-copy first printing). With Clean Air, award-winning author Blake introduces a postapocalyptic world where trees are so overgrown that pollen chokes the world and people must live in domes that someone is viciously slashing. From Hugo nominee and internationally best-selling Dutch author Heuvelt, sends Nick Grevers and climbing partner Augustin up a remote mountain in the Swiss Alps called the Maudit ("cursed" in French), whose eerie stillness presages the horror to come (150,000-copy first printing). In The Thousand Eyes, a follow-up to Larkwood's LJ-starred debut, The Unspoken Name, Csorwe has defied the wizard she served and disappeared into the unknown to lead a quiet life with her mage-girlfriend--but not for long; bits and pieces of an ancient goddess are arising in the worlds of the Echo Maze, and Csorwe must join with old companions to resist (150,000-copy first printing). Owen, The Boy with the Bird in His Chest in Lund's debut, is hidden away by his mother for years to protect him but decides to risk an outing in the woods that turns catastrophic (60,000-copy first printing). Successful YA author Ross's first adult fantasy, A River Enchanted takes place on an island as magical as Prospero's, where spirits responding only to a bard's music thrive--and the trouble they are stirring up forces just-returned musician Jack and his nemesis, heiress Adaira, to cooperate (50,000-copy first printing).

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

It's 2042. Only a tiny sliver of the world's population is left--and there's a serial killer on the loose. "Izabel had thought no one would kill another person again. Not after what they'd all been through." Ten years earlier, in an event now known as The Turning, the trees had released so much pollen into the air that simply breathing killed millions, including almost everyone over 60 and under 10. Izabel was working in a hospital morgue at the time, which is where she met her husband, Kaito. Now they have a 4-year-old daughter, Cami, and the family lives in a plastic dome in a town built on a slab and where transportation is provided by self-driving cars and a spiritual center offers weddings and funerals as well as counseling and tarot readings. The latter two play a major role in the plot, as do Japanese mysticism, messages from the dead, and possession by spirits. Izabel medicates her longing for the lost world by turning on reruns of America's Got Talent and The Backyardigans and pulling up news stories from 2017, when the planet seemed to be headed toward so many different disasters--but the revenge of the trees? No one saw that coming. Now some depraved person is killing whole families by slitting the walls of their plastic domes, and Izabel becomes so obsessed with the murders that she ends up in the middle of the police investigation, headed by a dry, bossy female federal agent named Inspector Paz. The strongest aspect of poet Blake's second novel, after Naamah (2019), is her worldbuilding, which is full of interesting details, from giant blueberries to privacy pods, but the writing is utilitarian, the character development, minimal, and the plot relies too heavily on mystical interventions. A quick read with a timely premise. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.