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Monday, 8 November 2021
TRASHLANDS by Alison Stine @AlisonStine #TuesdayBookBlog
How I discovered this book: I read about it on Kindig Blog HERE (thank you!)
In a Nutshell: Climate change/industrial pollution-orientated dystopian
Some decades from now (anything from 50 to 100 years' time, I believe), the earth has flooded, many flash fires have occurred, and waters are polluted by industrial waste and plastic. Society as we know it has broken down, and new ones have emerged. The currency for the poor is plastic - they 'pluck' it from the water and sell it for recycling into house bricks, which affords them a meagre, subsistence-level way of life.
Coral, Trillium and Mr Fall live in Scrappalachia, formerly without the 'Scr', a vast area of junkyard. Their own corner is dominated by a strip club: Trashlands. Meanwhile in the cities, the workers are a different sort of poor. They live a hard life, too: a high rate of crime, queueing for food, and little in the way of comfort.
As often with this genre of book, what I was most interested in was the world-building. At first there was frustratingly little, just a few snapshots showing how the current situation came to be, but it built up as the story went on with much more detail near the end, by which time it meant so much more than if I'd learned about it from the beginning; the narrative often divulged information in words left unsaid. I liked how the fashion for names has changed; mostly, people are named for places, plants and animals that I imagine no longer exist: Tahiti, Miami, Foxglove, New Orleans, Mangrove, Golden Toad - and Coral.
There is no big apocalyptic happening but a slow deterioration of the world we know, starting with the floods. This means, of course, that there is also a gradual deterioration in intellectual possibility and knowledge of the world, as the internet and TV no longer exist and most books have been destroyed; also, the people are more concerned with staying alive than being educated. It's like a move back to medieval times, but with a polluted world rather than vast areas of lush green and clear water waiting to be utilised.
The story is told in medium length chapters from many points of view - Coral, her man Trillium and her 'father', Mr Fall; also Foxglove and Summer, 'dancers' at Trashlands, Rattlesnake Master who owns it, reporter Miami from the city, and a few others. Always my favourite structure if done well, and this was. The story itself centres around an event in Coral's earlier life, but the plot seemed like a backdrop for this detailed picture of our future world, rather than the opposite way round.
There were a couple of areas that I thought could have done with a bit more thinking through, like how the people of the junkyard would have been unable to work or survive on a diet of insects, weeds and the odd rat, and that petrol and diesel deteriorates in about a year at most, but every post-apocalyptic story I've ever watched or read ignores this second point; if it's good enough for The Walking Dead, I'll suspend my belief here too 😉. To sum up, I was absorbed by this book all the way through, thought about it afterwards and would love to read more. There: that should be all the recommendation you need!