Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reading Room: The Carhullan Army

I love reading. I read a lot. This year will be no exception (I hope!). But I also thought I'd like to share my reading list with others and hope that people share their back with me (either by emailing me - please put 'reading room' in the title so I can spot it in the spam, comments or blogging your own reads..) both fiction and non-fiction.

So to kick things off - I've read The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall. It's a sort of post-apocalyptic novel set in the UK after the collapse of today's civilisation to the twin forces of climate change and peak oil. Out of the collapse, a far-right fascist feudal state controls most of the UK's population centers. Outside their control are the 'badlands' of the countryside. The novel is the narration of a woman who lives in one of these population centers who runs away to join a group of rebel women who live in a refuge established before the fall. The refuge, Carhullan, has evolved into a self-sufficient world of it's own. The novel follows her journey to Carhullan and struggles with the two paths open to the women - to fight the feudal state or sit it out and wait and see.

It is a short, but powerful novel with has echoes of the Handmaiden's Tale. It is well written in the sense the use of language is both evocative but well paced so the story is not buried in prose. The characters and the world they inhabit are believable and well-rounded. It is also powerful stuff - taking on the issue of violence and what it means on a personal level and on a larger stage. The ending (which I won't spoil) is very powerful. In short - a good read.