Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reader’s copy.
This book is simply amazing! It’s an eco-dystopian thriller set in the near future, when the Earth has been ravaged by climate change, rising sea levels and flooding, chemical leakages, and plastic pollution. Much of the land has turned toxic and the few remaining barely-getting-by-cities rely on recycled plastic bricks both as currency and building materials.
in a place called Trashlands located Scrappalachia (a future play on Appalachia, here set vaguely in Southern Ohio), the destitute spend their days hunting through a highly polluted river for recyclable plastic that they can sell, much like panning for gold in bygone days. Plastic has become the new currency. Picking through trash for plastic that has not been recycled before, they barely scrape out an existence as they face hunger, poverty, lack of nutrition, violence, an evil overlord, and scavenging kidnappers coming in randomly to snatch young children for factory work due to their agile fingers ability to pick out small usable plastic pieces. At the center of Trashlands stands a neon-lighted strip club which attracts the worst kind of men, staffed by well-meaning women who turn to sex work to survive. Rattlesnake Master runs not only the club but treats Trashlands as his own fiefdom. He charges residents for food, electricity and basic at jacked up prices much like the factory company stores of old.
At the center of this story stand three strong compassionate women survivors, single mom Coral and club workers Summer and Foxglove, who transcend their abject poverty and the misogyny of the men who come into Trashlands to get intoxicated and laid. By their sides are compassionate men looking out for them: Coral’s surrogate Dad, Summer’s lover and teacher of the children, Mr. Fall; Coral’s older boyfriend Trillium, and a reporter from the city coming to avenge his sister’s death in Trashlands. The action centers on pulling together the resources to rescue Coral’s son who was kidnapped years prior, and who has his own narrative interludes while imprisoned in the plastic brick factory.
It comes together with heart and ferocity, where the instinct to survive and to draw ones you love close transcends into hope and conquers evil. You want these characters to be your best friends if you found yourself in an apocalypse, and you hope that you would have the heart and grit to make it through like they do.
This books also resonates with you long past finishing it- and you’ll never look at the massive plastic trash that our consumer lives generate and pollutes the Earth the same way.