Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Five years before the start of Jackson's impressive debut, hurricanes across the globe lifted trillions of microplastic particles from the world's oceans. The atmosphere became saturated with those pollutants, and breathing became deadly. One survivor, Katie, has devoted herself to keeping her son, Harry, who was born after the calamity, alive and well. With the atmosphere still poisonous, their lives are mostly restricted to their small London flat, with Katie only venturing out to forage for whatever meat she can find, even if it's a stray cat. After a stranger appears at their building--the first person Katie has encountered in years--she suddenly has the unexpected hope that others have survived as well, leading her to seek out Harry's father while her own health deteriorates from exposure to the poisonous air. The narrative gets its power from little details, including Katie's efforts to occupy and entertain her son in a world without toys or social contact. Admirers of Lauren Beukes's Afterland will be riveted. (May)
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Review by Library Journal Review
DEBUT The effects of climate change had been felt for a while, but the microplastic storm quickly and unexpectedly decimated the population, leaving few survivors and no functioning infrastructure. Katie was home in London during the storm, but her fiancé Jack went to work that day and never returned. Five years later, Katie is trying to survive with her young son Harry, who was born after the storm and has never been outside, where it's still hazardous. They are isolated in their abandoned apartment building, but when Katie discovers an old letter from Jack, she has new hope that he's alive. That hope, encroaching threats, and her declining health spur her to take a harrowing journey across the UK in search of Jack. Interspersed with flashbacks of life before the storm, the story captures not only the physical harshness of Katie's life after this catastrophic event but also her emotional anguish over what she's lost, balanced by her fierce love for her son. VERDICT Ecologist Jackson makes her debut with this engrossing postapocalyptic cli-fi thriller that will have readers anxiously turning the pages and questioning their use of plastic.--Melissa DeWild
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
After a brutal climate apocalypse, a young mother undertakes an odyssey. It's been five years since most of the Earth's population was killed by a "plastic dust storm," a disaster that threw microplastics from the oceans straight into human lungs. Katie survives in a suburb of London, foraging for berries and roots and trapping stray cats. Harry, her young son, has never left their apartment (Outside is alien enough to warrant a capital O). But Katie's lungs are failing, and when she finds a hidden letter from the fiance she'd assumed to be dead, she takes Harry on a journey that will lead them to the northern reaches of Scotland. She hopes her fiance, a military veteran named Jack, can raise Harry after she, too, succumbs to the dust. Many of the survivors she meets along the way are menacing, and she struggles to trust even those who deserve it, like Andy and Sue, an older couple who have taken up together after losing their families in the storm. Leaving aside the plausibility of death by microplastics, many of Katie's concerns seem contemporary. Characters wonder whether it's safe to leave their homes and lecture each other over wearing face masks. Katie's struggle to be a good mother, especially in a catastrophe, is poignant. But Harry, until the novel's final act, exists mostly to regurgitate Katie's anxieties back at her. "Why didn't you sleep with me?" he asks after an overnight foraging expedition. "What if I couldn't wake up and I needed you?" Much of the novel is similarly overdetermined; a flashback to a precatastrophe self-defense class leads directly into a scene where Katie must put those skills to use. Jackson's debut novel is stronger when it's surprising, as in the scenes where Katie muses on the strange beauty of the new world. The themes strain under too much emotional exposition. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.