“Imagine that England is covered by water, and Norwich is an island… Zoe, left behind in the confusion, survives there are best she can. Alone and desperate among marauding gangs, she manages to dig a derelict boat out of the mud and escapes to Eels Island. But Eels Island, whose raggle-taggle inhabitants are dominated by the strange boy Dooby, is full of danger too.”
First Line: ‘Zoe ran harder than she had ever run in her life.’
Why I read it: The author is visiting my school and I wanted to read a bit more of his back catalogue and this is his first novel.
The first three quarters of this book are strong but unfortunately it tails off somewhat and I found the end very underwhelming. Sedgwick wrote this, his first novel, of a disintegrating apocalyptic society long before it was in vogue, he of course did not invent the genre but was definitely ahead of the young adult trend for it. Zoe is a gutsy and strong heroine but I would have liked more detail about her family and the people she meets along the way who felt a bit more hurriedly sketched in. I would have actually liked this short novel to be longer and find out a bit more. It is rather unrelentingly miserable and I did find it rather depressing but if you’re after a short, sobering read with plenty of action and a unnerving atmosphere then give this a go. Whilst Sedgwick capably creates a gloomy, creepy atmosphere I can’t say I enjoyed reading it and I kept hoping for a little bit more to actually happen. It’s a good, quick read and an excellent demonstration of the creation of a future world without hope but lacks the heart or depth that would take it to the next level.