Wednesday 23 June 2021


Book review: This Fragile Earth by Susannah Wise [blog tour]

Dystopian novels are one of my favourite kinds of reads, and the cover of This Fragile Earth by Susannah Wise (colour, font, and image) screams Station Eleven (which is my all-time fav). Needless to say I had to start reading the book as soon as I got my hands on a copy, and I'm so glad I did as it was really compelling!

Set in a not too distant world where bees are extinct and pollen drones are one of the many variations of artificial intelligence keeping our fragile earth ticking over, we meet Signe, her 6-year-old son Jed, and her partner Matthew on the day the electricity grid stops working. With everything reliant on electricity – from communication to transport to even opening their front door – they have to make the tough choice between hiding in London until it all blows over or finding safety with family in the countryside...

I was super intrigued by the world this book was set in. It felt so familiar (especially because it took place in North London for the most part and I knew all the locations because I've spend many hours exploring the area by foot during lockdown) and yet everything felt just slightly off. People wearing UV glasses wherever they went to protect against the sunshine, Jed's in-depth coding knowledge because in school he learned everything about the AIs that keeps their world alive, etc. It left a hint of discomfort at the edges of the pages even in those rare moments the story itself wasn't already making the reader's heart race from uncertainty. 

Combined with the fast-paced collapse of society when the grid went down, especially the uncertainty about who and what to trust at any given moment, it made for a very compelling read. 'Unputdownable' is a term used too easily and too much in book reviews nowadays, but this is one where it actually holds true. I read the book in an almost single sitting in one day, if that doesn't deserve to be coined unputdownable, then I don't know what does!

The last few chapters of This Fragile Earth did feel a bit rushed. It was so tense throughout that the pace of those final plot developments felt unrealistic and out of place. It also left me with many unresolved questions, and I personally prefer a read that's more conclusive than ambiguous. So while for the most part this book was intriguing, well-plotted, and so so compelling, it didn't quite reach Station Eleven highs for me. 

Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed reading This Fragile Earth; the inventive world-building and the terrifying yet true message of how close we are to destroying the planet. Realising we're relying on technology for survival and it could potentially be turned off with the flick of a switch makes for a distressing realisation. I hope it leaves its readers more conscious and appreciative of our fragile earth, just like it has done to me.


'This Fragile Earth'
by Susannah Wise will be published by Gollancz (a part of Orion) tomorrow, 24 June 2021, and you can order your copy now from your favourite book shop.

Blog tour stops for 'This Fragile Earth' Susannah Wise

This review for 'This Fragile Earth' is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure you check out the other stops for some wonderful content!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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