Survivalist stories are my jam, and I’m fascinated by the natural world. So when I saw that Emily St. John Mandel (author of Station Eleven) blurbed The New Wilderness by Diane Cook, I knew I had to have it.
The story is set in a large expanse of land that’s largely uninhabited by humans (and is protected by the government). When the Earth’s environment becomes harmful – especially to children – and resources begin to run out, one family agrees to be part of an experiment. They’re sent into the New Wilderness with a small group of other people, and essentially left to survive on their own.
*I received this book for free from the publisher (Harper Books) in exchange for an honest review.
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The New Wilderness by Diane Cook: My Thoughts
First off, I want to take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous this cover is. And it’s even MORE beautiful in real life!
The New Wilderness has some Station Eleven vibes, but it’s also very different. Instead of being a sweeping epic that covers different times, places, and characters, this story focuses on one family in mainly one place: a large expanse of untouched land, separate from the failing, environmentally ruined world outside its borders.
I loved that it explored the vast and largely disappearing connection between humans and the natural world around us. It also zeroed in on the complicated relationship between a mother and daughter. I enjoyed seeing Agnes grow into a young woman, especially in such a unique environment.
There were just a couple reasons I didn’t rate this higher. First, I had mixed feelings on some of the characters and the rationale behind their actions. I enjoy complex characters, and I understand that people’s actions change in different environments, but some things just didn’t add up to me.
Second, while I loved the natural setting and following along with the changing seasons, I felt the plot meandered at times. Fortunately, the writing was beautiful and would bring me back into the story.
Overall, while I didn’t love this quite as much as I hoped I would, I’m still glad I read it! This literary dystopian novel was both brutal and beautiful at the same time. It’s definitely worth giving a chance if the premise intrigues you!
Rating: 3.75 (out of 5) stars
Publication date: August 11th, 2020