Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Empty World

John Christopher
Heinemann New Windmill

When Neil survives a deadly plague and plunges into solitude, he must question everything in this gripping adventure from critically acclaimed Tripods author John Christopher.
Neil’s world is shattered when he and his family are involved in a horrible car accident that leaves him an orphan. He is sent to live in a small village with his grandparents, whom he loves but doesn’t really know.
Soon, a devastating illness, the Calcutta Plague, begins making the headlines. After killing thousands of people in India in just a few months, the disease begins to spread much farther, quickly sweeping across the world and eventually settling in the same village where Neil resides. The sickness is a strange one, affecting only the adults and none of the children, and soon Neil finds himself an orphan once more.
Alone, Neil travels to London in search of other survivors of the plague. There he finds a strange world of fear and suspicion, where friends can be enemies and people will do anything to survive. In this time of strife, amid the excitement and loneliness of his solitude, can Neil find a way to focus on what matters most?


John Christopher
John Christopher took the opportunity to destroy the world on a number of occasions and a good few of his best novels are set either during and immediately following the apocalypse - 'The Death of Grass', 'The World in Winter' - or are set any number of years into the 'post' and tell of the various new societies that have formed in the aftermath - The Guardians', 'The Tripod tetralogy'.  This one is from the former camp.

Published in 1977 'Empty World' is a young adult novel that takes teenager Neil Miller from the automobile accident deaths of his family through the deaths of the rest of the world caused by the virulent Calcutta Plague and Neil's solitary quest for other survivors and up to the point where he begins a new life.

It's a lovely little book with a protagonist who is emotionally distant and so able to carry us through the horrors of the narrative including the lingering deaths of two small children,  madness, suicide and mrderous jealousy.  

It is far too short and would certainly have benefitted from being allowed to expand it's exploration of this new world but I am quibbling as this was a most enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

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