Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Clade

Rate this book
On a beach in Antarctica, scientist Adam Leith marks the passage of the summer solstice. Back in Sydney his partner Ellie waits for the results of her latest round of IVF treatment.

That result, when it comes, will change both their lives and propel them into a future neither could have predicted. In a collapsing England Adam will battle to survive an apocalyptic storm. Against a backdrop of growing civil unrest at home, Ellie will discover a strange affinity with beekeeping. In the aftermath of a pandemic, a young man finds solace in building virtual recreations of the dead. And new connections will be formed from the most unlikely beginnings.

Clade is the story of one family in a radically changing world, a place of loss and wonder where the extraordinary mingles with the everyday. Haunting, lyrical and unexpectedly hopeful, it is the work of a writer in command of the major themes of our time.

239 pages, Paperback

First published January 28, 2015

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

James Bradley

30 books219 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James is the author of four novels: the critically acclaimed climate change narrative, Clade (Hamish Hamilton 2015), The Resurrectionist (Picador 2006), which explores the murky world of underground anatomists in Victorian England and was featured as one of Richard and Judy's Summer Reads in 2008; The Deep Field (Sceptre 1999), which is set in the near future and tells the story of a love affair between a photographer and a blind palaeontologist; and Wrack (Vintage 1997) about the search for a semi-mythical Portuguese wreck. He has also written a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus, the novella, Beauty's Sister, and edited The Penguin Book of the Ocean and Blur, a collection of stories by young Australian writers.

Twice one of The Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Novelists, his books have won The Age Fiction Book of the Year Award, the Fellowship of Australian Writers Literature Award and the Kathleen Mitchell Award, and have been shortlisted for awards such as the Miles Franklin Award, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the NSW Premier's Christina Stead Award for Fiction, the Victorian Premier's Award for Fiction and the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, and have been widely translated. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines and collections, including Best Australian Stories, Best Australian Fantasy and Horror and The Penguin Century of Australian Stories, and has been shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards for Best Science Fiction Short Story and Best Horror Short Story.

As well as writing fiction and poetry, James writes and reviews for a wide range of Australian and international newspapers and magazines. In 2012 he won the Pascall Prize for Australia's Critic of the year.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
389 (18%)
4 stars
877 (40%)
3 stars
638 (29%)
2 stars
208 (9%)
1 star
41 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 419 reviews
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,114 reviews1,978 followers
July 8, 2015
Well it must have been a good book because I read it in one afternoon. I really liked the way the author approached the topic of climate change, not as one horrific event but as a background of constant changes against which life carried on as best as it could. What I did not like though was the constant picking up and putting down of characters. Just as I was starting to get to know someone a new chapter started featuring someone completely different. Occasionally I even had to read back to find out who the new character was or even which country we were now in. Maybe I read too fast. However it is an original approach to climate change presenting the possibilities in quite a feasible way and is also an entertaining read. Four stars I think:)
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
469 reviews258 followers
May 10, 2020
Yet what of the future? What will be here eons from now? The ice is almost gone, but while it may take millions of years, there is little doubt that one day it will return, creeping back to cover the land, and the world will change once more, the turmoil and destruction of the past century being little more than a spasm, an interregnum in the great cycles of the planet’s existence. Perhaps there will still be humans then, men and women as different from him as he is from those ancient people on the plains of Africa; perhaps some of them will have spread outward, to the stars, borne there in great ships just as boats bore the first humans across Earth’s oceans. Either way they will carry within them the memory of this time, this past, like a stone borne in the mouth, just as he bears the memory of those ancient travelers in him.

I would classify Clade as Science Fiction Realism. We have a fully plausible exploration of the next few decades from the perspective of a handful of humans with human problems. Their problems are minor compared to the destruction that rages in the climate and the environments of the world. But even with Earth crashing, humans live their small lives and face their small problems.

This book explores our probable future if changes are not made soon. The scariest thing about this book is the plausibility.

While reading the first half of the book, I was iffy about it because I was not enjoying the human drama in the face of all the climate destruction, which I found more interesting. But the second half made me realize that the drama that comes with the human condition will live on even when we are faced with the decimation of everything around us. We will continue to fight and love and cry because that is our story. We will live as we always have, making mistakes and trying to fix them. But at least we still have the chance to make mistakes. I only hope we don’t make the final mistake that undoes it all.

There was a time when people talked about boiling the frog, arguing that the warming of the planet was too gradual to galvanise effective action, and although in recent years that has changed, delay having been replaced by panic, resistance by calls for more effective solutions, Adam still suspects that at some level people do not understand the scale of the transformation that is overtaking them.










***SMALL PLOT SPOILER***









Near the end of the book we encounter the pandemic. The virus originates in China and spreads across the globe. People must wear masks. People must isolate. “A Journal of the Plague Year” is the scariest chapter in the book because we are experiencing this right now—very timely and terrifying. Hopefully the outcome in reality is not the same for us as in the book.

We have to learn from this. We have to change.
Profile Image for Figgy.
678 reviews218 followers
April 25, 2020
LINK UPDATED

Actual Rating 3.5 Stars


You’re looking for a novel that is an epic, sweeping story of many generations, but at the same time not boring or dull? A novel that covers everything from the birth of a child with asthma to the relationships between a woman and her late father’s ex-wife, all the way through to climate change and bee colony collapse disorder, while not exceeding 250 pages?

Ha, yeah right!

Oh, hold up a minute, this is exactly what James Bradley has managed to do in this short epic novel.


The rest of this review can be found here!
Profile Image for Susie Munro.
227 reviews33 followers
May 3, 2015
reviewed with the benefit of bookclub input. some mild spoilers

I wanted to enjoy this much more than I did, I enjoy Bradley's critical work and was quite looking forward to this novel. The best I can say for it is that it is accessible and decidedly more hopeful than the vast majority of climate change/dystopian fiction.

Clade is more a loosely tied together short story sequence about surviving catastrophic climate change than it is a novel and suffers for it brevity - there's not really any space to explore in detail the themes raised, and there are a lot of them on Bradley's list of concerns. The novel is a very ambitious attempt to tack a quite literary multi-generational unhappy family saga on to a 'cli-fi' framework - perhaps in an attempt to add some gravitas or mainstream the story? It didn't work for me at all, although I suspect I am not the target audience.

The characterisation is rather soft and the various narrators rarely peek outside their bubble of great privilege which set my teeth on edge. The allusions to deep time were confusing mapped against only three generations of the family who link the narrative together, and the structure isn't sufficient to deal with numerous plot gaps - e.g. how does the immersive internet still work if there is no power? Enough said.
Profile Image for Mary.
418 reviews771 followers
April 10, 2018
This is a plausible, unnerving, and highly pertinent climate change dystopian novel that you should be reading during these troubled times. Clade explores the ways in which we have and will continue to destroy our planet, our relationships, and ourselves, and it does so not with a sudden apocalyptic event, but over time, with a steady downward self-inflicted spiral of mass natural disasters, refugee and immigration crises, wars, crop and species extinction, anti-science leadership and ineffectual media. If you’re reading this in 2018, this will all feel frighteningly familiar to you. It’s written beautifully and with that lonely, disconnected atmosphere that we’re destined to remain in as long as we’re determined to be obsessed with our gadgets and ignore reality.

If you’re into this kind of thing, Clade is superior to Red Clocks and The Power.
Profile Image for Glitterbomb.
204 reviews
February 5, 2018
This was epic in every sense of the word.

Imagine a tale spanning several generations. One that explores the destruction and devastation of climate change, from the very beginning to its end. All in under 250 pages. You would imagine it would be rushed and underdeveloped - lacking in detail. That is not the case here. Clade is an incredibly well thought out, and executed book.

The characters and plot are developed just enough, and you're not bogged down with unnecessary details. Think of a sketch; a minimum of strokes used to maximum effect. Everything was efficient in its delivery and the results were powerful.

This was a thought provoking and compelling read. It explores climate change, from the very first "Oh crap, we are at the point of no return here." moment right through to the end. It outlines the utter devastation and the repercussion it would have on our lives. It also tells a tale of human endurance and resilience, and how we are are versatile and able to adapt. I particularly enjoyed how the characters intertwine and overlap each other, how they are all linked in some (sometimes unexpected) way. Its a story about humanity and our relationships with each other in the face of an increasingly unstable world.

This really was brilliant and clever. A book that makes you take a good long hard look at who we are as a species, and the impact we have on our environment.

5 Stars, and I cant recommend this enough!
Profile Image for Jane.
Author 10 books136 followers
May 1, 2016
I read a lot of dystopia and I write a little too, and this is by far the most realist - and realistic - of all the stories I've read (or written). Bradley resists the urge to get apocalyptic and instead shows us how the world and lives we've loved will slip away from us like polar ice, sometimes in a trickle, sometimes in giant calving chunks. Clade is not a warning, it's a eulogy.
Profile Image for Jenny.
Author 7 books13 followers
March 22, 2015
A better title would be: Snapshots because this is essentially snapshots of various characters lives. I generally dislike books that are written to an agenda - and this author has plenty of those. Global warming is his main bugbear, as is immigration - and while he does do a reasonable job of creating characters to showcase his views, I couldn't help feeling lectured to at times. Also a point of irritation for me is that the sections of this book I enjoyed and the characters I began to connect with never reached any kind of resolution. Imagine picking up any book and only reading a chapter or two then having it taken away. I'm left with the sense that Clade could have been developed into two or three good novels if the author could have been bothered. Instead he chose to dump all of his opinions and ideas in one place.
Profile Image for Sally906.
1,363 reviews3 followers
April 29, 2015

Opens: …As Adam steps outside the cold strikes him like a physical thing, the shock still startling after all these weeks…


I have to confess I had never heard of the book CLADE or its author James Bradly until it was discussed on the Sunday Book club on ABC recently. CLADE is an unusual book in that it looks the scenario of the possible effects of climate change and how it impacts on the world through the eyes of three generations of one family, the Leith family, and some characters who come into contact with them. Bradley’s scenario is frightingly plausible.

Starting around 2016 the story moves through in a series of 10 narratives (or chapters) that are not linked in any real way except that a member of the family appears in it. There can be years between chapters before Bradley decides to pop back into the story and give the reader a snapshot of where the family, and the world, is at now.

CLADE opens with Dr Adam Leith and his artist wife Ellie trying to conceive a child – he is a scientist and is down in the Antarctica and she is in Sydney waiting to hear if this time the IVF process has been successful. He hears the ice beneath him creaking and groaning and understands this is the ice loosening up as the earth warms up. He worries about whether they should bring a child into the world. And the book continues each chapter jumping through history and gives a snapshot of what the family is doing against the background of a rapidly escalating global meltdown. The Earth is dying. Changing weather patterns result in hurricanes hitting Europe and Monsoons failing. Fish and birds start dying, massive floods kill thousands and a flu like virus kills millions. The temperatures steadily rise, civil unrest increases and world economies fall. Yet the day to day activity of the characters remain the same, they just get on with living as the earth throws yet another challenge at them. The reader gets to see snapshots of events through Adam and Ellie, their daughter, their grandson, a Chinese teenager Adam sort of adopts and a refugee from Bangladesh that Ellie connects with. This makes the story very personal, as the reader experiences the events as they affect the characters making it all very, very believable.

On the whole I liked the way the story progressed as a series of snapshots as the world deteriorated. I have to confess that sometimes it took me a while to get the connection to the family and it left me slightly adrift until I did, but as soon as I clicked I was off again. Was left a bit bewildered over the ‘Sim’ section and still not sure I have fully got that part. Overall though despite the steady decline in the conditions of the earth there is hope at the end of CLADE – it’s a bit out there – but why not, nothing else was working to stop the planet’s deterioration. In the end CLADE is not all doom and gloom – although there is a lot of it, it is more a story about how the human race is determined to look for solutions, adapt and fight to live – it is life but not as we know it.
Profile Image for Sarah.
729 reviews73 followers
January 18, 2020
I was uncertain of what the book was about based on the description but I was curious. It turns out the description is vague because the book is. It's set up in sections that are told from the perspective of different characters and each section leaps forward in time, but it does a poor job of telling you who these people are. There was one point where I had the gender wrong for half the section because it gave me no info on who this person was and I thought it was a different character, the character narrating the prior section. And the whole "Ellie discovers an affinity for bees thing?" That was maybe 5 minutes of the book.

It did loosely hold Adam and Ellie in the overall stories but didn't really have a plot that I could find. It was a sad book, a tad bit frustrating (for the above reasons) but mostly very boring.
Profile Image for Shaun Hutchinson.
Author 25 books4,567 followers
Read
March 13, 2019
I found this book oddly compelling yet ultimately lacking. It's basically a series of short stories following members of a family with climate change as the background noise. There were a lot of really wonderful elements here that I would have enjoyed if they'd been developed in a meaningful way, but just as we get into the character, the chapter ends and the story moves on and we never really get any kind of exploration of the subject or characters.

At the end of the day, this felt like a book full of good ideas that fails to deliver on any of them.
Profile Image for RitaSkeeter.
690 reviews
May 13, 2015
I first became acquainted with Bradley's work through his short story Beauty's Sister, that was published a kindle single. That was so utterly wonderful that I placed him on my list to watch out for future works. Which brings us to Clade . The blurb for Clade didn't grab me, I have to say. The worry I had was whether a book could adequately do justice to multiple generations of a family in only 240 or so pages?

The book is set in a not so distant future where climate change has brought both the earth and the people who live on it, to their knees. We follow multiple generations, starting with Adam and Ellie, who live in a world not so very different to what we have now, with Adam - a scientist - experiencing frustration that the warning signs of irrevocable change to the earth's climate are not being heeded. As we follow Adam through his life, and follow his descendants, we see the world's Eco-system collapsing as extreme weather events become more severe and more frequent. Accompanying this is the inevitable collapse of society as we know it.

So the question I had about whether the book could do justice to so much in so few pages? The answer is yes, it does. Bradley is a master of sparse prose and being able to say a great deal with very few words. This is a theme driven novel, but that is not to say the characters are not developed because they are. Bradley took me through a range of emotions in the book. The first half of the book I had a sense of claustrophobic panic. Climate change is a topic I feel strongly about, and Bradley's vision was both realistic and my worst nightmare. I resonated strongly with Adam's concern about having brought a child into such an uncertain world, and what theirs and their descendants futures might look like. The second half of the book I felt sadness. Bradley leaves his book with a bittersweet note of hope. Despite all that occurred during the book, people endured.

This is a very strong novel. It is easily the best novel I've read in January (this is number 20 for the month), but I'm going to take an early punt that it will be one of my best reads for the year. Sparse, emotive, and sophisticated.
Profile Image for TraceyL.
988 reviews133 followers
May 10, 2020
This author has a lot to say, but I don't if novels are the best form of writing for him. This book had no flow and I didn't think it was engaging at all. We are following a family that has to deal with several doomsday scenarios all being piled upon them. I didn't give a crap about any of the characters because there was no real character development. There are just standard Husband, Wife, Daughter, and Grandson archetypes. The grandson character is autistic so there is that dynamic.

I really wanted to like this but it was kind of a mess, especially as it got closer to the end.
Profile Image for Rose.
525 reviews27 followers
December 13, 2020
Not really dystopian, not really post-apocalyptic, because the apocalypse, most realistically, extends over a lifetime and occurs as a series of bangs and a long, drawn-out whimper. Yet, despite that, the book was strangely hopeful. A very internal examination of how people respond to crisis, set within a very realistic and non-melodramatic vision of how the Anthropocene may go.

Re-read: I was compelled to read this again in late 2020, after a year of pandemic and after a re-read of David Mitchell's Bone Clocks. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I'm finding myself thinking more and more about how humanity can and does respond to crises, either slow burns like climate change or wildfires like, well, wildfires, and pandemics.
Profile Image for Steph.
120 reviews15 followers
December 29, 2019
Clade stopped me in my tracks. A novel which moves forward into the future as environmental changes continue, and societal change results, with a focus on one family. It does this through a series of snapshots, with unknown but large swaths of time inbetween, and jumping perspectives (as well as styles/tone). James Bradley says he felt Clade was like a piece of music, and he wanted it to work as images or motifs, stories that spoke to each other across the book. These little moments of different characters' lives are intimate; daily life and the struggles of human relationships continues as the world happens around them. One of the things I enjoyed about reading the book was the environment and all the scary changes happening are mentioned almost incidentally as part of the backdrop of living. There is one very dramatic scene, but otherwise it's not "this is the end of the world, we are all going to die!" Etc, but much more complex, insidious, gradual- as is climate change. (They lose coffee in the book, now that scared me!)
It's been described as a climate change book, a sci-fi, or a dystopian fiction, but I'm not sure I would say it is just any one of these, perhaps a skillfully crafted mixture.
The prose is stripped back, spare, but beautiful. It didn't shout at me to say "this is clever writing" , it just was.
I snapped up this book after the Future Tense session at Adelaide Writers' Week with the author, James Bradley, talking with Margaret Morgan, and chair David Sly- one of my surprise favourite sessions of the week!

This was a 4 star read for me, but has been bumped up to 5 star due to shear stickability - I've thought about it a lot since!!
Profile Image for Stuart Dunstan.
18 reviews2 followers
November 21, 2019
Literary science fiction at its best. This book might draw comparisons to David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks (following connected characters over decades) or Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam trilogy (near-future/environmental theme), but it lacks the flashy, over-the-top SF elements and length of Bone Clocks, and that's a good thing.
The writing is so wonderfully succinct, grounded, and elegant that it most reminded me of Ursula Le Guin. A really great read to kick off 2015.
Profile Image for Carina.
125 reviews40 followers
March 24, 2015
Quiet, melancholic, beautiful writing. Enthralled by the flood chapter. Not convincing in it's "every ending is a beginning" theme surfacing hesitantly towards the end, but perhaps that's the point - it's a possibility rather than a promise.
Profile Image for Keith Stevenson.
Author 21 books40 followers
August 29, 2015
This review originally appeared in http://newtownreviewofbooks.com.au

A near-future novel that uses the devastating effects of climate change as its setting and yet isn’t a complete downer: that’s quite an achievement, particularly as it also avoids resorting to the kind of Hollywood, gung-ho ‘Hey, we saved everyone, anyway’ device to make it all better. If I had to sum up James Bradley’s Clade in one word, it would be ‘unexpected’.

A ‘clade’ encompasses all the members of a species alive and dead that share a common ancestor. In the novel it refers most strongly to the entire human race, a clade that is in danger of being wiped from the face of the planet it has so egregiously damaged, although other clades are also being destroyed due to climate change in the book.

Clade is not so much a novel as a series of connected stories, time-hopping forward and centring for the most part on a single family and how they survive, or fail to survive, when faced with the myriad effects of a warming atmosphere. It’s an important point made by the book – but in a subtle, non-preachy way – that an increase of a couple of degrees globally doesn’t just mean we have to wear shorts all year round. It means increasingly destructive weather events, power ‘brownouts’, drought and crop failure, starvation and pandemics, not just as one-offs but as the norm, hammering at humanity again and again, killing millions: fathers losing daughters, wives losing husbands, not just statistics, but individuals. You, me and people just like us. And yet this is not a depressing novel.

Adam, a climate scientist, is worried about bringing a new child into the world with his partner because out on the Antarctic ice shelf, he can already see the end of the world accelerating towards them. Still, when Summer is born she is a gift, and her parents bring her up the best way they know how, even though it’s getting more and more difficult to pretend the world around them is normal. Fast-forward and Summer and her parents are estranged, with Summer living in England, which is being pounded by storms when her father tracks her down and finds she has a child of her own: Noah.

Now, though, the sea is returning. In recent years these fields and towns have flooded more than once, and although the windmills that drive the drainage systems testify to people’s determination to keep the water at bay, it is really only delaying the inevitable.

Those who live here know this, of course. Hence the signs of preparation, the rowboats in driveways and on lawns, the canoes and kayaks propped against walls.

There was a time when people talked about boiling the frog, arguing that the warming of the planet was too gradual to galvanise effective action, and although in recent years that has changed, delay having been replaced by panic, resistance replaced by more effective solutions, Adam still suspects that at some level people do not understand the scale of the transformation that is overtaking them. Even if it hasn’t happened yet, the reality is that this place is already lost, that some time soon the ocean will have it back, the planet will overwhelm humanity.


This isn’t a book about apportioning blame. And as the characters slide into the apocalypse and things get worse, the focus isn’t on all-or-nothing survival. Clade is not emulating The Walking Dead. If anything, it shares some DNA with the BBC docudrama Threads, which was banned by the BBC at the height of the Cold War because it showed what a stupid idea nuclear war really was. Certainly the survival element is here and the characters suffer loss, but they are still identifiably human despite what they’ve suffered. They try to understand what has happened to them. And, most importantly, they still have the capacity to hope, and find that hope in the most unexpected places:

It was sort of sad, all the trees there in the water, but it was also weirdly beautiful. The water was dark brown – tannin from the eucalypts, Dr Leith told me later – and so still you could see the grass and leaves and branches scattered in the shallows.

I would have stayed there longer, but after a while I began to feel uneasy, like somebody was watching me. Looking around I couldn’t see anybody, but then again if there was somebody it would have been dead easy for them to hide. Just like realising people had been in the house last night, it creeped me out, so I headed back.

Noah had his lenses on when I got there, his face twitching and his hands opening and closing. I watched him for a while, wondering how long the software agents and AIs would keep running if we all died. Would the games continue on without us? It was a strange thought, all those worlds left empty, waiting, their only inhabitants things of bits and light.


As I said, James Bradley has created something unexpected in Clade. He’s stripped the politics from what has become a very political issue and shown us the humanity that lies beneath it. He hasn’t made the apocalypse palatable, but he has made it something grounded and relatable to you and me. That’s quite an achievement.

I hope people read Clade. I hope they’re not scared by the world it portrays but that they see it for what it is: a future that grows more possible day by day. A future we should do everything in our power to avoid. And I hope that understanding makes it easier for them to press for change in their own lives and in whatever government represents them.
Profile Image for Kimmy C.
298 reviews9 followers
November 9, 2022
I’m a sucker for Antarctica, and this doesn’t feature quite as much as you’d think, based on the back cover blurb, but don’t let that detract from the wonder that is this tale of families, lives, the repercussions from our past actions, while living through the results of immediate decisions, and the wonder that we, as humans, try so hard to survive.
Adam and Ellie (*cough* not Adam and Eve) are the central, and initial players in this book, as it gently meanders around their story, and into their daughter’s, her son’s, his carer’s daughter, her husband, their child, and the ancillary lives each person touches. Each experiences a different world, although on the same planet, and live through the trials of massive disasters from climate change, and pandemic (sound familiar? I thought so, what with *gestures at the world in general* that this was a recent write, but it appears that it was written in 2015, with an eerie, if somewhat pessimistic prescience.
Highly recommended, not a long or difficult read, but certainly a thought provoking one, both in human and ecological terms.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
837 reviews
November 16, 2019
Not quite what I was expecting, and it paints a rather scary and somewhat bleak view of what the future could hold.

It was tricky to work out what was happening in each section at times, sometimes with big jumps in time after the previous section, so I would have appreciated some indication of time in the title of each section.
Profile Image for Pia.
111 reviews53 followers
May 13, 2020
I don't even know where to start, honestly. I was tempted to just review this with a 'yeah, nah.' Instead:

* Early on there are rolling summer power outages. In one instance the power goes off at midnight, and in the morning the character says 'all the food will be spoiled.' This is literally not true, and terrible research, which isn't promising for a novel based on research. How did the editor not catch this? As someone who has lived through rolling power outages, our first google search was 'how long does food last in a closed fridge during a power outage?' Hot tip, 80% of their food wasn't spoiled. The characters then repeatedly throw out their food after every outage and buy it new again. The privilege is insane.

* Cremains are not fine dust that feel as though they are barely heavier than air. A cursory google search confirms they are like coarse sand, and heavier than you think. This could have been a symbolic choice, but in a book of badly researched knowledge (sans climate change), it just feels like...bad research.

* Mystical 'mysterious' ex-doctor Bangladeshi beekeeper only exists to give one character hope.

* The amount of privilege depicted is genuinely incredible.

* Every woman character is detached, aloof or cut off from her emotions or only feels rage or dislike generally, and seems to be damned by her children (or lack thereof). The same can be said for Ellie, Summer and Maddie. Less so Lijuan. Whenever a man becomes detached or aloof, it's always implied or described to be the woman's fault, even though one man responds by literally *going to Antarctica* and yet...still...blaming his wife...for their distance. The latent misogyny embedded in the text is so present it's inescapable. Women are only really hopeful in momentary bursts. Men are usually the ones carrying the 'true emotions.' Whether it's Noah, or Adam, or Tom. Young girls seem to be allowed to have 'real emotions' too. For a while.

* The only overtly queer character in the novel is an underage teenager who pressures another teenage character to make out in front of a camera set up and then shames her when she doesn't, oh and also gives her drugs. Not...ideal representation at the best of times. Nothing else to balance this out.

* The ending is rushed. Suddenly

Anyway, I could go on, but basically this felt like extremely easy to read garbage. I feel like I can kind of tell what this book was trying to do, but with no interesting characters to really hook into, and the author's willingness to , there was no real reason to hook into future characters either (I don't always mind this technique, it's been done to great effect by authors like Anne Marie MacDonald, Jeffrey Eugenides and Arundhati Roy). The majority of storylines are never resolved, and are left open-ended in a way that feels lazy rather than creative or well thought out.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,093 reviews589 followers
May 1, 2015

A clade is defined as "a life-form group consisting of an ancestor and all its descendants"(wikipedia.org). In this novel, James Bradley follows not only three generations of one family as they grapple with climate change but also the past and future of the human race as we must adapt to the changes we have wrought on our planet.

The novel opens in Antarctica with Adam Leith, a climate change scientist finding out that his wife Ellie is pregnant with their daughter Summer after two years of IVF. Adam is concerned about the changes in climate that he sees all around him - the melting of the polar ice, the increase in sea levels, the increase in acidity of the oceans, increased storms and floods and forest fires - are being ignored by politicians and the situation is spiraling out of control.

The book is written as a series of moments in the lives of Adam and his descendants so that instead of seeing climate change as a gradual effect we see more abrupt changes and are more aware of what is happening then the characters living their lives. This is particularly unsettling as we currently live with the early signs described by Bradley yet are doing little to take them seriously. Visiting Summer who is now an adult with a son of her own living in Cambridge, Adam reflects on the boiling frog syndrome where "warming of the planet was too slow to galvanise effective action" so that "people do not understand the scale of the transformation that is overtaking them".

Bradley describes an escalation in the devastation caused by warming on the planet. Parts of India and Bangladesh under water, massive storms and floods occurring regularly, vegetation changing and birds and bees disappearing. By choosing to show the effects of all this on one family he has somehow made the story more personal and real rather than something abstract. Through all this, Bradley imagines mankind continuing to adapt and survive and in the end his message is one of hope for our future.

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book to read and review
Profile Image for Claire.
84 reviews6 followers
April 14, 2015
I bought this book as a 'blind date'. It came wrapped in brown paper and string with the words 'dystopic', 'climate' and 'unsettling' written on it. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. It held my interest and is very nicely written. My only gripe is that it jumps around just a little too much for my liking and I would have like to know a bit more about each section than I ever did. However, I have just finished it this moment and that may settle when a bit of time to mull over it has passed.
Profile Image for Amy.
305 reviews16 followers
March 18, 2018
The first two-thirds of this book were easily a five, but then it all broke down when the story jumped around and stopped being as cohesive. There’s some really beautiful stuff in there about what humanity would be like when Earth turns into a sinking lifeboat, and that part is nice.

I’m not sure if it was just the copy I read, but this book smelled fantastic. It was a new book, so either they just came that way or someone who does an impressive amount of laundry borrowed it before me; it had that fresh, line-dried sheets smell. Weird.
Profile Image for Regina.
248 reviews8 followers
June 10, 2015
I was totally into Clade, however around the 80% mark it all unraveled for me and became quite a chore to read.

First 80% 4 stars. Last 20% 2 stars. So I'll give it 3 stars overall.

Profile Image for Christopher Wright.
Author 2 books5 followers
December 29, 2017
I delved into this marvellous novel two nights ago and was immediately seized by the characters and narrative. What a brilliant visualization of our troubled future brought to life through the perspectives of three generations of an extended family. The story begins in the near future as we follow a young scientist during his fieldwork in Antarctica, musing on the state of the planet while waiting for news from his wife about the latest round of IVF. We then fast forward to this family's future in a city straining at the first signs of climate disruption and a marriage falling apart, before future chapters take us further forward. Each chapter provides a vivid and beautifully crafted vision of characters we are connected to and care about, trying to deal with events beyond their control. Climate change is the constant backdrop to this narrative; not a simple one-off cataclysm from which we recover, but a constant movement of the baselines we now take for granted. The depiction of the catastrophes that intersperse this decline are well developed from small asides to cities and countries no longer in existence to the graphic first-person observation of how the niceties of society crumble in the face of a category 5 hurricane or a global pandemic. This is a very human telling of how people and families try to cope in the face of existential threat through love, art, science and wonder. It is also ultimately a very optimistic tale in a context of horror and the nature of human existence in a timeless universe. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Olga.
294 reviews59 followers
July 31, 2020
I'm so glad to finally read this. In the beginning I thought I wouldn't like the structure of the story but the writing is so good I immediately left behind any doubts and ended up feeling and caring for the characters' lives.

It's incredible how the author paints a future so bleak but at the same time is able to share a bit of hope, that can only comes from our sense for survival and the unknown.
Profile Image for ash | spaceyreads.
341 reviews204 followers
June 30, 2018
Clade writes poignant, quietly moving stories about climate change through the perspectives of individuals. There's something very disconcerting to read about the ways everyday life can quickly return to normalcy in the face of drastic environmental and societal changes. It's sobering.

I loved following Noah's life. As a child he braved a lot of uncertainty and difficult changes as the world shifted and adjusted around him, his family, his neighbourhood, and his community. There was a lot of loss - and a few difficult-to-read scenes. And yet he grew up, fairly adjusted, eased into his life as a scientist. Humans are much more adaptable than they think they are. Even as I write that, however, I feel impending loss. I hate that we have to be adaptable. It means everything can change in the blink of an eye, things I loved, things that were important.

The rest of the characters in this character-driven, semi-plotless story hold their ground as well, and their arc and growth is satisfying to see. A solid 4-star book.
Profile Image for Elentarri.
1,425 reviews5 followers
September 8, 2020
This novel is really a collection of vignettes that follow 3 generations of a particular family through worsening climate catastrophes. The plot was a rather shallow, if not downright non-existant. There was no character development - actually, the characters were mostly flat. Some of the information was just wrong (fridge food will not spoil if the power is out for a night!) and the ending just doesn't end anything at all and is rather silly (looks like the author got bored and just stopped). In all, the novel ended up being rather tedious. The writing is fairly decent, the concept of 3 generations of a family dealing with worsening climate catastrophes could have been interesting, but this novel did not work for me. I simply did not care about any of the characters or their problems.

FORMAT: Audiobook
Displaying 1 - 30 of 419 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.