PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

The Ship is a dystopian novel set 20 minutes into the future. Civilisation as we know it, has pretty much ended. Global warming has taken away much of the world's viable land, with pollution and disease seeing to the rest. With Britain becoming a military dictatorship and violence becoming a commonplace hazard, there seems to be little hope.

Former collaborator and revolutionary Michael Paul has a plan however; he intends to rescue some of what's left by bundling five hundred good people (including his wife and daughter) onto a very well supplied ship headed away from the UK.

The story is told from the perspective of Lalla Paul, a spoilt and sheltered sixteen-year-old girl, who seems incapable of understanding the changing world around her or coping with any level of grief and strife. Her world-view is honest, refreshing and also rather sad. The main problem is a protagonist incapable of accepting change makes for a rather dull central character, if the world around them is also stagnant.

Despite what the excited quotes from other reviews say on the cover, this is nothing like The Hunger Games or its ilk. Those books typically feature a spunky female hero, who discovers that they have the power to affect change in a world that becomes increasingly complex. The Ship reverses this trope; the main character is a powerless figure in a world caught in an inevitable decline. Or to put it another way, The Ship goes nowhere. A better comparison would be to the novel Station Eleven, though without the joy of discovery that makes that book so compelling.

Thoughtful, provocative and plodding, The Ship seems to be one of those books specifically written to encourage people to talk about it at book clubs and in English literature classes and you will either love it or hate it depending on how easily you relate with the central character. Reading The Ship is certainly a journey, though whether or not it takes you anywhere is up to you.


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