books

LAND review

20/09/2015

Synopsis

The sea rose. Civilisation was wiped out, countries drowned. Out of the ashes of a desperate refugee camp, a new society was born, with a new place to call home: Land. Trapped by an aggressive sea, its citizens were bound to rules that saw the weak removed, marriage and children by approval only, and designated work for all. All for the greater good……

Decades later, and seventeen year-old Christy’s life is on the cusp of irrevocable change. She has become eligible for the Pairing, a carefully selected marriage of political and social convenience where romance is out of the question. Her grandmother, Cons, has also reached a significant age – sixty-six: soon the Selection Truck will arrive to take her away forever.

Christy’s only hope for protection lies with her missing rebel father…..but nothing goes as it’s supposed to. As Christy finds a Pair who might offer a new opportunity for love and security she also uncovers a destiny that has been hidden from her; truths that have been disguised as childhood lies. With Cons’ life under threat, Christy is forced to face a whole new world, one where she must choose between those she cares about and the greater good….a new life where she must play the reluctant rebel, the revolutionary, the lover…..the assassin.

Review

Reading Land gives you an instant feeling that you are delving
into someone’s original creation of the world. The vivid descriptions –
particularly those of our protagonist walking around the empty streets – really
stick in your mind long after finishing. It is not that they are incredibly
unique or engulfing, but reflect a simplicity that contrasts to the chaotic
jam-packed dystopia that a lot of books in this genre, Land included,
encompass. As it is a YA dystopia, it typically includes a lot of issues that
our protagonist somehow finds themselves in the midst of, meaning that these
quiet scenes allow us to unwind from the loudness of society and submerge
ourselves in the story.

There seems to be a trend in the young adult genre, especially in
dystopias, of female protagonists having a bad relationship with their mums.
Land is another of these books as Christy lives with her Grandma and has an
incredibly distant relationship with her mum. At first this seems quite
irritating, with her mum being referred to by her first name (Stella), but it
develops considerably through
the book (not that we want to give anything away). It also helps to make
Christy’s biggest characteristic shine even brighter – a fighter for those she
loves. This makes a pleasant change from a lot of YA books that portray
teenagers as having a lack of connection to those around them, and shows that
it is not embarrassing to be close to a relation, even grandparents. However,
whilst this is a great trait, she doesn’t really care much for herself which
leads to her becoming quite sacrificial and altruistic. This can give the idea
that you cannot look after yourself and do good in the world and that is
has to be either selfishness or selflessness. Does this reflect the pressures
of our own society in that we cannot have a happy medium in our lives?

Land makes a brilliant observation of our society in its current
state in several ways, including our impact on the environment and what it
means to be a refugee. After a huge flood covers most of the world, a few
individuals find refuge on a small stretch of land which leads to a community
being set up and thus LAND being built. This reflects the current refugee issue
Europe is facing, especially in the opening paragraph when we are told about
Christy’s grandma’s story and the loss she faced when seeking a safe place to
call home. However subtle, it really does show the impact that being without a
home or nationality has when travelling for asylum, and how when a community forms
it can completely transform humanity. As for the environmental side, it goes
hand in hand with how humanity values society, in the ways that we are treating
the earth now with the threat of the greenhouse effect and climate change.
Whilst Land doesn’t actually discuss the cause of the flood, it still acts as a
question to make us think – is this where we are heading?

As with the best dystopias, Land incorporates a range of human
rights issues from euthanasia to the right to a family, mental illness to love.
In Land, when teenagers turn 16, they automatically could be chosen to be
paired with another and potentially be asked to repopulate. This brings into
question the issue of forced marriages and the right that we are entitled to be
able to choose who we love and who our family is. Mental illness is something
that we have discussed before in the blog and the way that it is captured in
dystopian books. This is an issue that Land, with its brilliant subtly, takes
to a new level. Those who appear unhappy, or who do not attend school, or work
for a certain amount of days, are put on medication that essentially fake
happiness. This is primarily to keep the image going that the leaders have
created a perfect utopia, but also reflects the fact that only those who can
give to society can stay. Euthanasia is a big feature in Land as all the
elderly, sick, and those who disobey rules are killed as they can no longer
work to benefit society. This is interesting as it really makes you question
the moral issues associated with this and where it would stop.

Ultimately, Land is a dystopia that raises some very prominent
questions about our own lives and society, as well as creating an identifiable
protagonist for all, not just teenagers. It is hard in this age of young adult
literature to stand out on shelves, however Alex Campbell has created a book
that is genuinely gripping as you delve deeper, and that encompasses a well
rounded view of a potential future. Even though some parts may be predictable
or relatively unrealistic, the overall feel of the book is one that leaves you
wanting to fight for change and help to prevent this becoming a reality. Make
sure to check out Alex’s latest book, Cloud Nine, which shows the pressure of
having to be happy and the repercussions that this can bring.

Age recommendation – YA

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