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Far North

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  2,594 Ratings  ·  375 Reviews
Out on the far northern border of a failed state, Makepeace patrols the ruins of a dying city and tries to keep its unruly inhabitants in check. Into this world comes evidence that life is flourishing elsewhere - a refugee from the vast emptiness of forest, whose existence inspires Makepeace to take the road to connect with human society.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 3rd 2010 by Faber (first published January 1st 2009)
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Powerful book. Powerful, magnificent, but brutal and bleak. Makepeace is one of the most resilient characters that I have ever come across while reading fiction.

I have noticed that many reviews here give away too much of the plot. I would advice against reading them as the magnificence of this book comes out through Marcel Theroux's ingenious writing. He tells you the story by Makepeace's point of view but everytime Theroux holds something back and reveals it finally in a single sentence as if
You know that Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away, the one where Hank's character is stranded on an island alone and everyone on the plane with him that crashed is dead? He has a few reminders from civilization, undelivered packages, some toys – a volleyball. Now imagine that he never got off the island and imagine that it was really really cold. Now imagine that he met some slavers and what happened after that was not pleasant. Then imagine that he met some opportunists who do anything to control their ...more
Oct 29, 2010 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn to this book because of its setting in the north and post-apocalyptic genre, but I was pleasantly surprised by some of its distinctives. First, it has a female protagonist, which I found an enjoyable and insightful viewpoint, as the experience and vulnerability of women in a world gone to hell takes on different shapes than that of men. Further, the protagonist (Makepeace) is witty, philosophical, worldly, and acerbic--thus, accompanying her thoughts is usually quite enjoyable. She c ...more
Jun 27, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What took place in this took me completely by surprise. All of it, from start to finish. To say much would be to spoil it. I read this is pretty much one sitting. I think that in itself can say much about a book (and that I had a day off to devote to it). It deserves it. My day off. I feel satisfied. If you like PA, this is something you may like. If you don't like Post Apocalypse novels, I still suggest this one. I find it strangely relevant to the times we are in. The warming of the Arctic, th ...more
Jan 29, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where I got the book: my own selection, from the library.

Makepeace is a survivor in an age where drought and famine have wiped out most of the population. A remnant of a religious community that settled the farthest northern reaches of Asia, Makepeace struggles with the choice between isolated self-sufficiency and reaching out to other humans in an age where brutality is the norm.

Far North is a compelling book. I've always loved end-of-days novels, and if you've ever read John Wyndham's 1950s cl
Dec 04, 2013 Kat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apocalypse, 2012-read
Let me start by saying it took me 11 days to read this book. 300 pages over 11 days is, what, 27-odd pages a day which is VERY unusual for me. I do confess that I was in something of a reading slump when I started this, so please take what I say with a pinch of salt!

This book is beautifully written in a bleak, harsh and short way, full of twists that I didn’t see coming, and gradually reveals its secrets at the right parts of the story.

Without giving away too many twists and secrets, I just foun
David Hebblethwaite
Marcel Theroux’s Far North is a tale of endurance and survival, though not necessarily in the way one might anticipate.

Our narrator is Makepeace Hatfield, the constable of a frontier town in Siberia, though she’s not really sure how many people there are to protect and/or fend off any more. Makepeace is the daughter of parents who, along with others from the US, settled in Siberia looking for a simpler life, environmental changes having put intolerable pressures on the life they knew. It didn’t
Apr 16, 2015 Ryandake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-good-shit
what an awesome little book. reminded me of maureen f. mchugh's Mission Child, except told even more sparely.

this is my favorite kind of sf read: a first-person narrative of a small world, intensely and intimately experienced. no view from orbit here--everything is close-up, full of sensory detail, and all acts have significance and meaning.

the narrator here is a the sole remaining inhabitant of a former utopian town. she doesn't remain alone for long, however, so it's a good thing she's got ple
Oct 09, 2015 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, 2015, award-winner
This is the second time I have read this book. I was contemplating what to read next and came across this on my Nook. I remember it from 5 years ago but didn't remember specifics, so I thought I would read about 10 pages to jolt my memory. After 50 pages, I was hooked again and had to re-read it. This is a dystopian novel but how the end happened does not matter as much as what life and survival and humanity means now that the world has changed. Makepeace is the main character and it's her musin ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Gertie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apocalypse
This one is bleak. Not quite as soul-crushing as The Road, but definitely harsh. That is part of the beauty of it though.

Thoroughly engrossing, with a main character (Makepeace) you can enjoy getting to know, both the good and the bad. Makepeace is someone you can't help but admire for sheer stubborn will to live.

I also found the various survival aspects interesting - it never fails to amaze me how authors in the post-apocalyptic genre continue to find new ways to demonstrate the various diffic
May 31, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Cormac McCarthy’s brutal western Blood Meridian were set in the dystopian future of The Road and then translated into home-spun sentences by Larry McMurtry, you’d approach Far North, by Marcel Theroux.

Narrated by Makepeace, the constable of a barren, post-apocalyptic town in Siberia, Far North is a story about survival in a struggling world. A “broken age,” as Makepeace tells it. One in which human beings who are deprived of food and “unwatched” are rat cunning and will not just kill you, bu
John Wiltshire
Dec 18, 2015 John Wiltshire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Normally I like to know something about a book before I start reading it, but more and more I find I'm just clicking onto the next on my Kindle and going with the flow. Sometimes that yields unexpected gems. Thrust into this novel with no idea of its subject, I'm delighted I didn't read a blurb beforehand because that is exactly how this book should be read. It's clearly post-apocalyptic, but what apocalypse? It's in first-person narration and, trust me, you get a bit of a jolt about the identit ...more
This is a wonderfully engrossing story - couldn't put it down and stayed up too late each night reading it. Other than the almost preternatural calm that Makepeace displays throughout the book, seems like a very real, plausible way for the world to go.
Highly recommend.
Jan 26, 2013 Ian rated it it was ok
This was shortlisted for the Arthur C Clarke Award in 2010, but lost out to Miéville’s The City The City. It is yet another US post-apocalypse novel. The writer is British, but the son of US author Paul Theroux; and the novel is actually set in Siberia. The central premise is that Siberia was opened to American settlers, but then some sort of catastrophe did for the rest of the world, and those remaining in the “Far North” gradually succumbed to the usual violence, rape and warlordism. Theroux c ...more
If you're looking for a novel with a strong female protagonist who is never overshadowed by any male characters or caught up in romantic subplots, Far North beats most of those I've read.

The strength of this novel is the protagonist and first-person narrator, Makepeace. She's tough, practical, and capable of being violent when she has to be, but never without purpose or remorse. She has a very straightforward way of telling her story -- she doesn't seem to dwell on things or spend too much time
Jillian Goldberg
Sep 03, 2012 Jillian Goldberg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing. I am a huge fan of Paul Theroux and assumed stupidly that his talent would inform his brother's work. Not so. I found this book to be pretentious, boring, monochromatic, and eventually annoying as I hurried to find the climax, redemption or vision.... could not relate to the protagonist in the least, and therefor could not care about her adventures which seemed like a really repetitive dragging around in the frozen wastes of some dystopian world. There was so much navigationa ...more
Apr 04, 2010 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
A great read. Makepeace Hatfield is a first-rate fictional character who is destined to appear on a movie screen. A thought provoking page-turner. A book full of surprises to the very end, and depictions of a world that are both repelling and tantalizing. Marcel Theroux has a great eye for detail and nuance. The first novel of Theroux's I have read, and I will make it a point to read his three earlier novels.

The 1st American edition text was marred in a few places by transposed words, an otherwi
Dec 10, 2009 Fred rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked the book, overall, and I thought Makepeace was an easy and likable narrator. I just felt, for a book about the end of the world and the aftermath of global catastrophe, there wasn't much _urgency_ to the book. Makepeace was at times _too_ easygoing. Theroux writes well about the Siberian landscape, and there are the occasional very pretty turns of phrase, but ultimately I found the book a bit forgettable. Ultimately, I wish he'd written a present-day (or even historical) novel about wild ...more
Mar 18, 2011 Milan/zzz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia
I took this because many reviewers were linked this with "Oryx and Crake" by M. Atwood and "The Road" by C. McCarthy (which I haven't read btw; but I have them on my to-be-read pile and I know I'll like them).
Surely it was very interesting read and something I usually don't read.
Post-apocalypse somewhere in Siberia; life in destroyed cities; radioactive or full of deadly germs; totally deprived humanity among those who have survived... the world as know it doesn't exist; native peoples with the
Jun 16, 2011 Derek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic, sf
"This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang but a whimper" (T S Eliot)

In Northern Siberia, Makepeace Hatfield is the last survivor of a colony of American Quakers who've moved to Siberia, with the Russian government's blessing, to establish the sort of community that English Quakers came to America to create.

We're never told exactly what has caused the total collapse of civilization, but we do know that global warming is involved - the growing season in the Arctic is increasing - and that t
Jan 25, 2010 Courtney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As the world grew crowded and warm, but before it all fell apart, waves of settlers uprooted themselves from across America to pursue utopian dreams in cold Siberia. Makepeace Hatfield is born into one of these idealistic communes, and grows into adulthood as the world falls apart. We learn a little of the history of the unraveling of the world when Makepeace pauses to look back, but mostly this is a book of forward motion, even when the motion has no purpose but to keep on moving. Our hero live ...more
Oct 02, 2009 Jv rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Shaffer
A very compelling, often brutal, take on a possible world to come.

Theroux has a knack for understatement, often using it to conceal character traits and motivations. Scenes that other authors would turn into lurid descriptions of blood and gore were written sparsely, almost downplayed. I appreciate when an author uses this technique effectively.

I do have a few issues with the tidiness of the story. That is, the ending seemed just a bit contrived, with the character having an opportunity to fac
Martin Belcher
Jan 20, 2012 Martin Belcher rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to, it started quite well with a tale of a woman called Makepeace Hatfield stranded in the far north of what was one Russia following some sort of worldwide catastrophic breakdown of civilization. Following a tragedy of her own, Makepeace ends up on the road searching for something or someone or some place to call home. What follows is a bit of a ramble backward and forwards between different bands of horrible people, a spell as a prisoner, a radioact ...more
Jessica Fitting
Sep 04, 2016 Jessica Fitting rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this hungrily, and felt the cold and awfulness of the setting while doing so! A story set in a kind of dystopian/alternate future Siberia mixed with lots of Wild West tropes, which chronicled the depressing path of a fierce woman's life that she refuses to give up. I loved some of the scenes created, and connected to the main character. Her gender was hidden for a time but also crucial to her characterization and I was surprised how integral it was to each beat in the plot. Her life was p ...more
Oct 26, 2015 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a brutal, dark, dank, horrible, wretched, depressing tale with such a beautiful ending. I loved the very noteworthy prose that had me e-highlighting throughout. For instance there was this gem, "It was hope. As much as I badmouth people in general and think the worst of them, I'm secretly waiting for them to surprise me. Try as I might, I haven't been able to give up on them wholly. Even though they are nine and nine-tenths dirt, now and again they are capable of something angelic." Or this ...more
Apr 05, 2016 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting end of the world book, kept me up late last night. Five stars
Jun 22, 2016 Vegantrav rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last of civilization endures in the wilds of Siberia and Alaska. Harsh winters and short summers produce hardy, resourceful survivors. Nature is cold and callous, and so, too, are many of the characters that populate this novel--though not the narrator.

Makepeace, the narrator, is alone in the ghost town of Evangeline. Even this town of adventurous settlers on the remote frontier of the Far North has failed. Makepeace alone remains. Makepeace is about to commit suicide when a plane crashes n

„Far North“ ist ein dystopischer Roman des Autors Marcel Theroux und lag lange, lange auf meinem SuB, bevor seine Zeit endlich gekommen war. Ich meine, ich habe es gekauft, kurz nachdem ich Die Straße von Cormac McCarthy gelesen habe. Mein Verlangen nach düsteren Endzeitgeschichten war in dieser Phase enorm, da ich das Gefühl hatte, McCarthys Pulitzerpreis-gekröntes Meisterwerk habe mir eine ganz neue Welt der Literatur offenbart. Und auf gewisse Weise war das ja auch tatsächlich so. Mittlerw
Oct 13, 2010 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are post-apocalyptic novels better if they detail how the world ends?

I guess it depends upon what sort of message we're looking for.

My favorite post-apocalyptic novels -- Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake -- represent the two ENDS of this apocalyptic spectrum. McCarthy's END is ambiguous, allowing him instead to focus all of his energies on a commentary about hope and despair. Atwood's END is clearly explained, allowing her to speculate on where our choices are le
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Hiroshima Book Club: Discussion Questions - Far North 2 12 Mar 08, 2016 06:21PM  
Question about End (Spoilers) 1 24 Dec 05, 2012 01:29PM  
Mrs. Gallagher's ...: Book Review, Far North 1 10 Nov 17, 2012 08:57AM  
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Marcel (Raymond) Theroux is a British novelist and broadcaster. He is the older son of the American travel writer and novelist, Paul Theroux. His younger brother, Louis Theroux, is a journalist and television reporter.

Born in Kampala, Uganda, Theroux was brought up in Wandsworth, London. After attending a state primary school he boarded at Westminster School. He went on to study English at Clare C
More about Marcel Theroux...

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“...the years have taught me not to wonder too much at the dark things men do. Strange how it is that men never act crueller than when they're fighting for the sake of an idea. We've been killing since Cain over who stands closer to god. It seems to me that cruelty is just in the way of things. You drive yourself mad if you take it all personal. Those who hurt you don't have the power over you they would like. That's why they do what they do. And I'm not going to give them the power now. But it was a cruel thing that they did, and when they had finished hurting me, a splinter of loneliness seemed to break off and stay inside me forever.” 15 likes
“Strange how it is that men never act crueler than when they're fighting for the sake of an idea. We've been killing since Cain over who stands closer to god. It seems to me that cruelty is just in the way of things. You drive yourself mad if you take it all personal. Those who hurt you don't have the power over you they would like. That's why they do what they do.” 6 likes
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