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  • Lots left unresolved

    This Fragile Earth is an intriguing apocalyptic thriller. The book is set in a future where the bees have died and drones and bots are the new way of life draws good parallels to the path that we are on at the moment. The story follows Sygny and her 6 year old son Jed as they embark on a journey to get to Jed’s grandmother’s house as technology fails around them. I love dystopian fiction and sci-fi so I really enjoyed those elements of the book. I liked the thought of a civilisation so dependent on technology that when it starts to fail even simple tasks such as opening the door to their house or working out where they are on a motorway become impossible. I enjoyed what world building there was but I would have liked a little more backstory. We got a few mentions of past history (eg: when the bees died) but it didn’t feel enough and I was left a little unsatisfied – I wanted to know more. This is a good sign though as what was written I found intriguing, I just would have liked more of it. There are also a few confusing science points made in this book about codes and sequences tied to harmonies and music which was a nice image but I think detracted and muddled the book. The overall conclusion of what was happening and why became clear and was easy to understand but I felt that the TrincX bits weren’t needed and ultimately didn’t really add anything to the plot. I also felt there were some fairly large plot holes, for example, I still don’t understand where all the humans had gone. 1 day after the power goes down Syg and Jed go onto a motorway and only meet a couple of people on the entire road, despite there being a large number of stationary cars and thousands of people flooding to get out of London. The village their grandmother lives in is also completely empty and there are also no bodies seen either which is a little confusing. My main trouble with the story is its characters, which is unfortunate as it is mainly focussed on only 2 people – Syd and Jed. Syd is straight forward enough and easy to empathise with although towards the end she starts becoming an unreliable narrator and goes a bit off the rails, the cause of which is not really explained. She also makes some questionable decisions as to what lies she tells people and the main lie she tells to Jed is never resolved which was a shame. I also agree with one reviewer that pointed out that the cover and the blurb give away a massive plot twist that would have had a much harder impact on me if I hadn’t already assumed it would happen before reading the book! Jed is where I had main problems; he is a 6 year old boy and yet his dialogue seems to jump from being a whiny child to being a teenage coding expert which made no sense. He even says at one point: “With the infinity sequence, you can loop the constellations into cycles. Then the programming has a different function… the algorithm continues learning.” Does that sound like any 6 year old you’ve ever heard? I think the author could have easily put him as at least 10/11 and it still would have been impressive but a lot more believable. He was also used as an exposition dump for coding and computer knowledge with his parents asking him questions which seemed very odd. As well as being a child genius, Jed is the most annoying travel companion and if I was Syd I probably would have left him on the road at various points. He yells out even when their lives could be in danger, he tells people secrets he’s been explicitly told not to tell, he also refuses to do things and is all round very frustrating. I understand that he’s only a child but when his high intellect is highlighted so often it seemed confusing that he’d put his life and the life of his mother in danger so many times. Overall, This Fragile Earth is a bit of a frustrating read, I was crying out for some more worldbuilding and one of the main characters was unrealistic and frustrating. The climax also felt rushed and lots of threads were left unresolved. Thank you to NetGalley & Orion Books – Gollancz for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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  • stunning

    Utterly compelling, beautifully told. I loved it.

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