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Far North

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,826 ratings  ·  489 reviews
Far North is a 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

My father had an expression for a thing that turned out bad. He'd say it had gone west. But going west always sounded pretty good to me. After all, westwards is the path of the sun. And through as much history as I know of, people have moved west to settle and find freedom. But our world had gone north, tr
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 2009 by Faber and Faber
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  3,826 ratings  ·  489 reviews

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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 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 06, 2011 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 va
Jan 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apocalypse
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
Aug 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 t
David Hebblethwaite
Apr 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it

How strong is the will to stay alive when the world lies in ruins and basic survival instincts may outweigh morality? This story of endurance, in the aftermath of the collapse of civilisation, is as bleak and unforgivingly harsh as the Siberian landscape in which it is set. Yet the powerful narrative compels the reader to follow one survivor's journey to its conclusion, in hope that the human spirit can somehow survive against all the odds.

'The Scriptures were certainly
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, award-winner, 2015
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
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-o
3.25 rounded down. A very surprising and powerful book. Humanity is as harsh and cruel as the landscape that Makepeace inhabits. This was not an enjoyable read but a very worthwhile story that keeps you thinking about it long after it’s over.
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 muc
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 can’t ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
With a good start and alot of potential what went wrong??

Far North is a Post Apocalyptic book which is a mixture of books such as The Road, Station Eleven set in a sort of new Ice Age and reads slightly like a western in places.

With a promising start this book does draw you in too a cruel world however the writing style of this book and decisions made by the author are just awful in places. The author seems to change his mind time and time again about where to take the st
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.
John Wiltshire
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 03, 2009 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
Apr 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
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
This was much better than I expected, a truly interesting voice and compelling storytelling.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Literary post-apocalyptic fiction. Well-written but bleak.
Jan 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
May 18, 2011 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 civiliza
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 21, 2010 rated it liked it
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
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
Jillian Goldberg
Sep 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jessica Fitting
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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Hiroshima Book Club: Discussion Questions - Far North 2 20 Mar 08, 2016 06:21PM  
Question about End (Spoilers) 1 32 Dec 05, 2012 01:29PM  
Mrs. Gallagher's ...: Book Review, Far North 1 11 Nov 17, 2012 08:57AM  
Apocalypse Whenever: Far North 59 148 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 Colle
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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.” 16 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.” 7 likes
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