Ahoy there me mateys! This be the fourth book in me Ports for Plunder – 19 Books in 2019 list. I wanted to read this because it is a postapocalyptic sci-fi novel about a crumbling world where one man’s vision of survival is a ship where he chooses the 500 souls whose only salvation is to get a slot onboard. But Noah’s ark this ain’t.
The story is told from the perspective of Lalla, a sixteen year old whose father is the saviour. The ship seems like a utopia to the chosen passengers. There is safety, running water, food for all, and freedom to enjoy the simple things in life like cooking, listening to music, and swimming. In exchange, there is no talk about the past or future but only concentration on living in the moment and enjoying life’s little pleasures. However, Lalla feels smothered by the boat and the memory of those left behind. She wants to know where the ship is going and what the plan is. The problem is that no one will discuss it. Her father focuses only on maintaining his cult-like following and control.
While well-written, this book ended up being tough to love. I thought the world-building was excellent. I loved the majority of the concepts. I loved the entire beginning of the book up through the passengers settling in to life on the ship. Then it got dicey. What it came down to was Lalla’s temperament and choices.
Lalla was spoiled and sheltered by her parents. She has almost no real personality of her own but what she does have is extraorindarily selfishness. She lost her home and stability when she boards the ship. Everyone else was fleeing disaster and finds the ship to be a haven. Initially I had sympathy for her predictiment. But she is whiney, thoughtless, and silly. She gives no thought to the feelings or needs of others. She doesn’t act like a 16 year-old. She acts like a temper-tantrum-throwing toddler. She continously makes bad choices and has extremely unlogical and flawed thinking. I would have just tossed her overboard and been done with it.
Also many of the plot twists of Lalla’s journey were just plain pointless or stupid. The ending in particular irked me. I dont’t necessarily fault the author’s choices because it actually made sense for Lalla to have made such a dumb decision. Every thing Lalla does is based on pure reaction and emotion. But after reading this, I immediately came up with many better options and long-range plots to potentially achieve success. Seriously this girl was a moron. I knew the answers to the mysteries practically upon introduction of them. Lalla was clueless.
So even though the given prespective and plot were super annoying at times, the story did keep me engaged and I had to keep reading and finish. The ship did turn out to have a sinister and creepy feeling. I wouldn’t want to live in those conditions but I understood why others might. I have no regrets about reading this one and would be willing to try more of the author’s work. Arrrr!
Goodreads’ website has this to say about the novel:
The Ship is a luminous and genre-defying debut novel that follows a young woman’s coming of age in a world where she has no future.
London burned for three weeks. And then it got worse…
Lalla has grown up sheltered from the chaos amid the ruins of civilization. But things are getting more dangerous outside. People are killing each other for husks of bread, and the police are detaining anyone without an identification card. On her sixteenth birthday, Lalla’s father decides it’s time to use their escape route–a ship he’s built that is only big enough to save five hundred people.
But the utopia her father has created isn’t everything it appears. There’s more food than anyone can eat, but nothing grows; more clothes than anyone can wear, but no way to mend them; and no-one can tell her where they are going.
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