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Life-changing love and hope permeate this haunting dystopian novel set four years into Britain’s post-Brexit future.
Spanning twenty years, beginning four years from now, Rosa Rankin-Gee’s Dreamland is a haunting, visionary dystopian novel. Set against a bleak backdrop of escalating inequality, austerity and climate change in post-Brexit Britain, the novel feels both hyper-real and dream-like, suffused as it is in the ethereal melancholy of an abandoned seaside town and the longings of its inhabitants.
Seven-year-old Chance and thirteen-year-old JD were born in London, which “was a fourth world country now. A hotbed. A timebomb waiting to go off. That, and an island for rich Russians.” And so their mother accepts a grant from a right-wing foundation for them to move to Margate at a time when droves of people are moving inland to escape the rapidly rising sea. It’s run-down, boarded-up, and subject to the hazardous consequences of climate change, from the rising sea, to the extreme heatwave that hits during their second summer. There are black-outs too, power outages, riots and looting, and then comes the Localisation Act, which grants greater autonomy to smaller regions, resulting in London isolating itself further from the rest of the country and a mass exodus from hard-hit Margate. The creeping sense of change, deterioration and desperation is palpable as Chance seeks to settle into herself, to make a life in Margate while her mother has a new baby to care for and a violent boyfriend to watch out for. And then Chance meets Francesca (Franky), and both their lives change forever thanks to a love that both sets them spinning and roots them, as the world spins out of control.
Beautifully-written (the calm, crystalline language is loaded with longing), and powerfully prescient, this is a unique and captivating cautionary tale of our times.
You said that you would come back. You looked me in the eye and said that. Well, if you had, this is what you would have seen: soft wood, black cracks, fridges in the road. The broken spines of old rides at Dreamland.
In the coastal resort of Margate, hotels lie empty and sun-faded 'For Sale' signs line the streets. The sea is higher - it's higher everywhere - and those who can are moving inland. A young girl called Chance, however, is just arriving.
Chance's family is one of many offered a cash grant to move out of London - and so she, her mother Jas and brother JD relocate to the seaside, just as the country edges towards vertiginous change.
In their new home, they find space and wide skies, a world away from the cramped bedsits they've lived in up until now. But challenges swiftly mount. JD's business partner, Kole, has a violent, charismatic energy that whirlpools around him and threatens to draw in the whole family. And when Chance comes across Franky, a girl her age she has never seen before - well-spoken and wearing sunscreen - something catches in the air between them. Their fates are bound: a connection that is immediate, unshakeable, and, in a time when social divides have never cut sharper, dangerous.
Set in a future unsettlingly close to home, against a backdrop of soaring inequality and creeping political extremism, Rankin-Gee demonstrates, with cinematic pace and deep humanity, the enduring power of love and hope in a world spinning out of control.
|Publication date:||15th April 2021|
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster Audio UK|
|Primary Genre||Dystopian Fiction|