Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Review: Carbon Diaries 2017 by Saci Lloyd

Sequel to Carbon Diaries 2015

I could have sworn I reviewed Carbon Diaries 2015 somewhere, either here or at Goodreads. Apparently my review was a figment of my imagination. I hate it when that happens.

Carbon Diaries 2017 picks up a year after the first one ended. Carbon rationing has been in place for Great Britain for two years now, and the rest of Europe is planning on following suit. Water riots are breaking out around the world: Africa is still held in the stranglehold of drought, and in the US, states are threatening to dam their rivers so that their precious water won't travel out of state (especially to places like Arizona where it's felt that people have no reason to be living in the middle of the desert).

Laura, our diarist from the first book, is now in college, still dating Adi, and rocking out with the dirty angels with dreams of a European tour about to be realized. While in 2015 the main focus was on survival in a radically altered society, now Laura and her family and friends must deal with the political fallout. A neo-Nazi-esque group the United Front is gaining traction in London, claiming that the foreigners and immigrants are taking the few jobs that are left, leaving the white populace to starve. Fighting against the tide is 2, a radical and potentially terroristic group that is determined to prevent the United Front from gaining any ground. Somewhere in the middle is the government, who will go to any extremes necessary to keep the peace, even if it means severely abridging personal freedoms.

In the last book we got a few glimpses of what the rest of the world was like through e-mails with family members in different countries, but when the dirty angels go on tour we get to see first hand the political unrest caused by the destabilization of the environment.

I vaguely recall that I wasn't a huge fan of the first book, though since I can't find my thoughts on that one ANYWHERE I can't confirm that. Clearly I wasn't put off enough to want to avoid the sequel, which I did mostly enjoy. Books written in diary format often require me to suspend my disbelief a bit, because how likely is a person to be able to accurately recall whole conversations after the fact? Also, it's a paper diary and there's a resource shortage, so is Laura really printing out pictures and texts she receives on her phone to paste into her diary? She's squatting in an abandoned building at one point - I highly doubt there were printers nearby. So while I like the multi-media aspect of the book, it doesn't really make logical sense.

One thing I did enjoy about this one was the wide variety of view points on the political scene afforded to us by the multiple band members. Two band members grow increasingly radical, though not always for the same cause, which brings about some tension. Another band member seems to care about nothing other than music and wants to avoid thinking about anything even slightly political. Laura is still caught in the middle - she recognizes there are a lot of things wrong in the world, but will her contributions to any one cause actually bring about change? Or will it just get her into trouble and further hinder her dreams of punk rock stardom? There are tons of debates in this book; it's certainly not a light read, but it is a good one!
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