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The Wall

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  9,959 ratings  ·  1,275 reviews
Ravaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall―an enormous concrete barrier around its entire coastline. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and are a constant threat. Failure will result in death or a fate ...more
Hardcover, 254 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published January 17th 2019)
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Celia Or that this is about a wall? Or that the people living inside are demonized? Or that the people living outside are painted as victims with no other a…moreOr that this is about a wall? Or that the people living inside are demonized? Or that the people living outside are painted as victims with no other alternative than to take another people's country by force?

If this is a coincidence, somebody please buy that author a lottery ticket.(less)
Ann I think there is content that makes you think about the human spirit and what it takes to survive..or want to survive. And the randomness of who lives…moreI think there is content that makes you think about the human spirit and what it takes to survive..or want to survive. And the randomness of who lives; who dies.(less)

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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  9,959 ratings  ·  1,275 reviews


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Marchpane
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-releases
Dull, pedestrian dystopia

I’m not really sure who the target readership is for The Wall , John Lanchester’s Booker-longlisted novel about a post climate change future. As a work of genre fiction – a cli-fi dystopia – it is derivative and stale. It’s also unsatisfying as literary fiction, with flat prose, undeveloped themes and cardboard characters. The callow young narrator and a tendency to over-explain the obvious might tip it towards the YA category, but YA readers are likely to find it plo
...more
Paula
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dystopian fans
Recommended to Paula by: Booker
Longlisted for the Booker prize 2019

I very much enjoyed this suspenseful and atmospheric dystopian novel. Maybe because it is so plausible.

THERE ARE NO BEACHES LEFT...the Change has happened and the climate is past fixing. Set on an island (sounds like the UK) British author, John Lanchester, takes the reader to The Wall. It’s COLD, very COLD, and the author makes you feel like you are there. The Defenders man The Wall which surrounds the border. Young people are drafted for 2 years to protect
...more
Meike
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, uk, 2019-booker
Now Nominated for the Booker Prize 2019
The genius of Lanchester's "The Wall" is that this dystopia simply envisions what might happen if we go on like this: The sea levels have risen dramatically due to climate change, Britain has build a wall around the whole island, and people who flee from the South to the North are combated like enemies in a war. Is this the most subtle book ever written? Hell no, but this author does not seem to think that the problems we are facing scream for excessive su
...more
Peter Boyle
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
We're not short on dystopian stories these days. One would think that readers might like to escape the daily news cycle of doom and gloom, but our appetite for apocalyptic thrillers shows no signs of abating. The Wall is one of the more considered and thoughtful offerings. If you're a fan of the kind of speculative fiction that Margaret Atwood does so well, you might want to check it out.

The story is set sometime in the near future. A major climate event has occurred, causing sea levels to rise.
...more
Jenna
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopia
"I had been brought up not to think about the Others in terms of where they came from or who they were, to ignore all that—they were just Others."

Npc Maga GIF - Npc Maga Wall GIFs

Wall:  "A high thick masonry structure forming a long rampart or an enclosure chiefly for defense" . (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

For millennia, humans have built walls to keep people in -- and to keep people out.  We've all unfortunately heard trump's spiel about how we need to build a wall to keep out all those "criminals, drug dealers, rapists" (
...more
Hugh
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019

My fifth book from this year's Booker longlist, this is the first which I think is lucky to be there. I don't read much dystopian fiction but I have already read two much more imaginative ones this year, the best of which was Zed. Neither is this Lanchester's best work - he has never improved on his debut The Debt to Pleasure, though Fragrant Harbour came close.

We meet the narrator Joseph Kavanagh (as others have pointed out this must be a nod to Kafka's Josef
...more
Ron Charles
John Lanchester’s new novel, “The Wall,” sounds like the best-timed book of the year. It arrives smack dab in the heat of a constitutional crisis over President Trump’s determination to build a barrier along our southern border — Congress be damned.

Lanchester, who lives in London, is well-equipped to write about this confrontation tearing up America. Not only is he one of the best financial journalists, he’s also a novelist with a keen eye for how politics and money corral ordinary people’s live
...more
Gumble's Yard
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this book due to its long listing for the 2019 Booker Prize, although I have in fact read all four of the author’ should previous novels and his most famous work of non-fiction. I loved his Whitbread (now Costa) First `novel prize winning “The Debt to Pleasure” but struggled to engage with much of his writing since and had decided to skip this book (unless prize nominated) based on that and on the early reviews I had read of the book.

So now it had been prize nominated, here goes ..

Climat
...more
Nenia ✨️ The Trash Empress ✨️ Campbell

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THE WALL by John Lanchester falls into a genre that I call "unapologetic lad-lit." It's written for men, and doesn't really make any secret about it; the manly-man protagonist plows his way through the story with his testosterone-charged mediocrity, and all of the women who should be out of his league but aren't end up falling for his oh so average charms. There's also war, too, of course. I definitely got a STARSHIP TROOPERS vibe from t
...more
Kathleen
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Booker Prize Longlist 2019. Lanchester’s dystopian novel explores a world where sea levels have risen dramatically after ‘the Change’, land is scarce and in need of protection from ‘the Others’. Thus, the country (similar to the U.K.) has erected ‘the Wall’ and manned it with ‘Defenders’ to keep out water and unwelcome immigrants—a literal Brexit.

Above all, The Wall is an atmospheric novel. We meet the narrator, Joseph Kavanagh, as he starts his new job as a Defender on the Wall. It is COLD! The
...more
Collin
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 BOOKER PRIZE.

The first thing we learn about the wall is that it is cold. Not just your everyday run of the mill cold. The cold that makes you wish you were dead, or at least somewhere else. The second thing we find out is that when you’re sent to the wall for your tour, it will last two years. These two points never change, but the men who you will be on tour with do. The obvious questions spring to mind, why was the wall built, what has happened to the rest of the world.
...more
Trudie
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia, booker-19
* 3.5 *

This reading experience ended up being ok despite all indicators to the contrary.
Look, I don't think this is a literary-prize winning effort, but I enjoyed it. As a dystopia it takes a fairly minimalist approach to world-building : take a big wall, add water, baby politicians and some "Others" and that is your backstory. Generally, it is lacklustre as far as dystopias are concerned. However, I approached this as a type of team-bonding novel; a low-key version of Platoon set in chilly Eng
...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This is a dystopian novel about climate change, nationalism, and immigration, as much as it is about human nature and basic survival. The book started out slowly with the narrator basically giving a lengthy dissertation about the wall and how the rising sea levels caused the disruption of society. This is not the most interesting way to do world-building. The book did pick up about halfway through when there was finally some action in the story. Despite the characters constant fight for survival ...more
Dianne
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is long-listed for the 2019 Booker Prize, so that made it a must read for me. I try to read all the Booker long-list novels every year. Reviewers have not been kind to this one, so I was not expecting to like it - but I did! Do I think it’s Booker-worthy? No. It was (for me) an interesting but lightweight dystopian look at a possible future where walls abound to keep immigrants (called “Others” here) out and where climate change (called “The Change”) has flooded the landscape.

The probl
...more
Emily B
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked the concept of this book however the wall did seem very very familiar however overall I enjoyed reading and as a dystopia I found it entertaining.

I have to say I did prefer the first half to the second and wasn’t too keen on the ending. I’m not sure why it stopped there exactly.

‘A bit like human life in general, you could say, the terrible regularity with which nothing happens, the genuine terror when something does’
Ova - Excuse My Reading
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
A brave new world for millennials, this is.
Full review soon
Jonathan Pool
June 16, 2015: ... Donald Trump announces his campaign for the presidency and first mentions his idea to build a southern border wall.

“I will build a great wall ― and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me ―and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words

John Lanchester chose a great title for his latest novel. It’s unambiguous, it has immediate resonation in this divided world, and M
...more
Karen Whittaker
Feb 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
John Lanchester is an established author with a big fan base and so when I saw that the Telegraph Book Club had chosen this book as its book of the month for February I felt I could not go far wrong. All the reviews I read beforehand indicated that this book was the Orwell "1984" of its time.

So definitely not the case in my opinion.

This book has at one point in the early stages a long list of words repeated over and over again - particularly the word "concrete". How boring is a list of words you
...more
Anita Pomerantz
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
If I don't over intellectualize to much, I have to say I quite enjoyed reading this dystopian survival story.  But, other than the fact it was topical (climate change, walls/border control, younger generation blaming the elder for the world's woes), I am not really sure how this gets nominated for such a prominent literary prize.

But, I enjoyed the narrative voice of a young man serving his mandatory military service and I thought a lot of his emotions were artfully, if not beautifully, described
...more
Krista
Jul 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, man-booker-nod
It's cold on the Wall. That's the first thing everybody tells you, and the first thing you notice when you're sent there, and it's the thing you think about all the time you're on it, and it's the thing you remember when you're not there anymore. It's cold on the Wall.

The Wall is set in a cli-fi dystopia that extends modern realities to an admittedly believable future – global warming has raised the ocean levels and scorched the lands of developing countries, desperate refugees risk their li
...more
David
Jul 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Dystopia Lite, heavy on predictability and with more than a dash of YA seasoning, served up with extra helpings of cold (types 1 and 2).

I'm afraid the best I can do is damn this one with faint praise. It's quick. It's not terribly complicated. The story itself lies closer to potential reality than many Bleak Future fables and is therefore disturbing at times. If forced to choose between The Wall and Snap, however, Sophie would probably give them both up.

A bona fide cranky start to the 2019 Booke
...more
Barry Pierce
My first Lanchester and probably not the best place to start. In The Wall a wall has been built around the UK after an event called The Change and our protagonist, Kavanagh, has just began his service as a guard on the Wall. Marketed as a dystopia, I think it's more befitting to call it speculative.

Yet Lanchester doesn't really have anything to say with this novel. The whole thing feels like something Channel 4 would produce as a limited series supported by stark in-yer-face billboards and crypt
...more
Doug
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5, rounded down.

Had to mull this one, since I didn't want its Booker longlist nomination to cloud my judgement of the book itself, either way. I don't think it is quite the anomaly others have decried - to me it firmly belongs to the same category of 'Adventure Tales for Grown-up Boys' as such previously pegged Booker tomes as The North Water and The Narrow Road to the Deep North; as well as such dystopian parables as The Water Cure and Exit West. But then, the topic/genre itself wouldn't have
...more
Kate
When non-genre authors write genre fiction (in this case cli-fi, sci-fi or future history genre), they never seen willing to flesh out the details, leaving the reader having to make it up in their head.

I wanted to know more about the political situation, I wanted to know more about the climate change impacts on the world of The Wall. I wanted to know more about The Captain's experience as an Other, and to know more about the people in Britain who wanted Others to be treated better.

Instead, all I
...more
Carrie
Jun 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Update: Longlisted for Man Booker 2019
While this is a timely book in terms of current political rhetoric and climate change deniers, this is not the most powerful dystopian or speculative fiction that has been published.

Original Review
Speculative post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction with a hint of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Kevin Costner's Waterworld film
...more
Nicky
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5* stars rounded up. A quick, easy read but more than a tad YA-ish for the Booker long-list.
Paul Fulcher
It seems idiotic now and it seemed idiotic then, but I had no idea what else to say.

says our narrator Kavanagh early on, which is perhaps not far of my opinion of John Lanchester’s financial journalism, so I was interested if his novels were any better.  

The Wall feels like a book written to hit as many topical buttons as possible within a very simple story.  

The concept combines the (very important) inter-generational warnings of an imminent climate tipping point from the movement begun by Gret
...more
Katie Long
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
If you think, after reading the blurb, that you have the gist of this novel and know where it's going, you definitely do. Everything about it, setting, plot, characterizations, even the message the author seems to be putting across is all just too simple. There is no complexity in any of it to dig into. And yet, the plot points are still over explained. To the point that even the most crucial events, that should be exciting, lose all impact. I think I'm starting to hear a "how did this make the ...more
Daniel Chaikin
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


(Japan's new concrete seawall for Tsunami defense)

Holding off on the climate change and xenophobia bit a moment, I find this one an odd one to place, in my own head. Post-apocalyptic literature has certain characteristics that we append to it (each differently, I imagine, although there are lots of commonalities). Narrator focused is a version, maybe some poetics, but Lanchester has put together an inward prose that verges on poetic and that is...shall we say, elegantly restrained, polite, a thi
...more
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Play Book Tag: The Wall by John Lanchester -- 3 stars 11 22 Oct 11, 2019 06:15AM  
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Play Book Tag: The Wall/Lancaster - 4 stars 5 19 Aug 23, 2019 02:49AM  
Play Book Tag: The Wall - John Lanchester, 2.5 Stars rounded to 3 4 18 Aug 22, 2019 09:23AM  

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John Lanchester is the author of four novels and three books of non-fiction. He was born in Germany and moved to Hong Kong. He studied in UK. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and was awarded the 2008 E.M. Forster Award. He lives in London.

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“I’d been brought up not to think about the Others in terms of where they came from or who they were, to ignore all that—they were just Others. But maybe, now that I was one of them, they weren’t Others anymore? If I was an Other and they were Others perhaps none of us were Others but instead we were a new Us. It was confusing.” 4 likes
“They drum that into you: discipline trumps courage. In a fight, the people who win are the ones who do what they’re told. It’s not like it is in films. Don’t be brave, just do what you’re told.” 2 likes
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