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Far North

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,568 ratings  ·  291 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 June 9th 2009)
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Veeral
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
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Regina
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
Matt
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
Jane
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
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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
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Kat
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
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Gertie
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
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Ian
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
Ryandake
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
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Fred
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
Carolyn
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.
Milan/zzz
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
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Jv
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
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Martin Belcher
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
Ryan
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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V C
I've been reading a lot of PA stuff lately. I think it is because there is a lot of it available, but I've always been a bit of a PA/dystopia nerd. And either because a previously unmet demand is suddenly being met, or it's just become faddish, there's a lot of new PA novels out there. I have to say that the past few have been some of my favourites.

It's a layered narrative with revelations about the protagonist, Makepeace, gradually uncovered throughout the book. It's also probably the only boo
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David
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
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Courtney
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
Esme
Das Leben in den Städten ist für einige Menschen unerträglich geworden, so zogen sie in Siedlungen in Sibirien, auf der Suche nach einem ursprünglichen, ehrlicheren Leben. Hier ist Makepeace Hatfield geboren und aufgewachsen. Doch Überbevölkerung, Erderwärmung, Krankheiten und Kriege schwemmten Flüchtlinge in ihre Refugien in der Arktis. Die Spannungen zwischen ihnen zerstörte innerhalb kurzer Zeit das menschliche Zusammenleben. Nun ist Makepeace ganz allein in einer Geisterstadt. Bis sie eines ...more
Mason
James Lovelock—the scientist who helped the world discover ozone-hole-creating chemicals and developed the idea that life on Earth has managed the planet's temperature—says we should start planning a retreat.

“At six going on eight billion people,” Lovelock told Andrew Revkin, a New York Times reporter, “the idea of any further development is almost obscene. We’ve got to learn how to retreat from the world that we’re in. Planning a good retreat is always a good measure of generalship.”

And, Revkin
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Julie
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
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Lorie
Cormac McCarthy's The Road may have spawned a whole subgenre of speculative fiction, all dealing with the aftermath when wars or climate change or some other apocalypse lead to the end of civilization as we have known it.
I have just finished Far North by Marcel Theroux. He is not the writer McCarthy is, but has his own style that fits the subject well - short sentences, spare language.
In this take on the future, a few "settlers" have survived the demise of civilizatoin by staking claim on pie
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Tanya
I just read Far North by Marcel Theroux. FIrst of all, if ANYONE sees me anywhere near any more dystopian, the end of the world is near and it isn't pretty books, please steer me clear! Having said that, this one is probably worth the read... if you are into this sort of thing (which, apparently, in spite of myself, I am). The style wore on my nerves a bit -- a few too many similes for my taste; and the content wore me down -- annihilation is a little hard to take, set in the future Syberia, it' ...more
Jill
Jim’s Evaluation: Theroux's writing is terse and clear. However, the plot is very reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and that’s a very tough act to follow. This book is not as concise and not nearly as scary as The Road. Rating: 3/5

Jill's Evaluation: I would rename the main character (and also the narrator) Meh-kepeace. The character was sort of blah and not really well developed. Subjects that might have revealed more about Makepeace were dispensed with by sentences like: "I can't dwell
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Jillian Goldberg
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
Jim
An outstanding, well-written, postapocalyptic odyssey of an American-born expatriate in Siberia, repeatedly hurt both physically and emotionally, who yearns to know something of the outside world and is repeatedly forced to struggle to survive in a harsh, unforgiving world. Makepeace is an intelligent, compelling character, but often naive, who nonethless is a survivor and an observer of man. Anyone who enjoys this genre will find a dash of McCarthy in this, though the styles are very different ...more
Laura
A classic born, waiting to be discovered like a meal in the harsh cruel ruins of humanity. I hated "The Road" for its rambling, and bleak lack of "soul." This book spoke of how humans continue fighting for a better life, finding hope, continually losing it, and finally in the "Fall of our lives" realizing the only hope we can cling to is that our children will live better lives, forgive us our trespasses, while we bravely proclaim wanting better, but selfishly clinging to the hope they'll remain ...more
James
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
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Damali
Jan 15, 2012 Damali rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who hate life
I listened to the audiobook version of this, so I'm sure I had an advantage over those who choose to read it. Do not read this book while depressed and don't read it while you're happy either. There isn't any moment to look back on and smile with this book. I can't say I'd recommend it to anyone. If you read the book summary, then you know pretty much what happens. It starts off with no hope, and that's how it ends. It is a fine piece of writing, and I don't regret reading it, but I'd never read ...more
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Question about End (Spoilers) 1 13 Dec 05, 2012 01:29PM  
Mrs. Gallagher's ...: Book Review, Far North 1 10 Nov 17, 2012 08:57AM  
Apocalypse Whenever: Far North 59 130 Jan 29, 2012 07:07PM  
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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
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.” 11 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.” 5 likes
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