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Bridge 108

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From the Arthur C. Clarke Award–winning author, a dystopian novel of oppression set in the climate-ravaged Europe of A Calculated Life, a finalist for the Kitschies award and Philip K. Dick Award.

Late in the twenty-first century, drought and wildfires prompt an exodus from southern Europe. When twelve-year-old Caleb is separated from his mother during their trek north, he soon falls prey to traffickers. Enslaved in an enclave outside Manchester, the resourceful and determined Caleb never loses hope of bettering himself.

After Caleb is befriended by a fellow victim of trafficking, another road opens. Hiding in the woodlands by day, guided by the stars at night, he begins a new journey—to escape to a better life, to meet someone he can trust, and to find his family. For Caleb, only one thing is certain: making his way in the world will be far more difficult than his mother imagined.

Told through multiple voices and set against the backdrop of a haunting and frighteningly believable future, Bridge 108 charts the passage of a young boy into adulthood amid oppressive circumstances that are increasingly relevant to our present day.

195 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 18, 2020

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About the author

Anne Charnock

16 books153 followers
Anne Charnock's novel DREAMS BEFORE THE START OF TIME is the winner of the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke Award, and was shortlisted for the BSFA 2017 Best Novel Award. Her latest novel, BRIDGE 108, is written in the same world as her debut novel, A CALCULATED LIFE — a finalist for the 2013 Philip K. Dick and The Kitschies Golden Tentacle Awards.

SLEEPING EMBERS OF AN ORDINARY MIND, her second novel, was named by The Guardian as one of the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2015

Anne Charnock's journalism has appeared in New Scientist, The Guardian, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune and Geographical. She was educated at the University of East Anglia, where she studied Environmental Sciences, and at The Manchester School of Art, England where she gained a Masters in Fine Art.

As a foreign correspondent, she travelled widely in Africa, the Middle East and India and spent a year overlanding through Egypt, Sudan and Kenya.

Author photo by Marzena Pogorzaly

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 70 reviews
Profile Image for Richard.
1,763 reviews144 followers
February 18, 2020
Although sent in the future, within a new world order, where climate change, wildfires and water shortages have triggered mass migration this is a very current novel regarding the subject matter.
The U.K. is functioning well and is the place people’s from Southern Europe head for in this dystopian future.
Told in a series of events in the life of Caleb and narrated from the perspective of multiple voices he comes into contact with on his journey.
Initially travelling with his Mother he is later separated and although only 12 years old he is people trafficked and forced into slave labour. The dreams his Mum and Dad of leaving their native Spain and seeking refuge in England are a long way from his reality now. But he learns to adapt and adjust to his new situation. He is resourceful and this his story of changing, learning and seeing beyond his present circumstances. He his young; he makes mistakes and people let him down.
The system works against him but he never loses sight of the new life his parents never saw happen which he needs to fulfil through his own endeavours.
I liked this novel very much. It was fresh and although set in the near distant future it seems familiar and pertinent to many issues today. I liked the move to an assemble of perspectives through the different voices. Each character seemed real and faithful to this time and more human because of the flaws they demonstrate.
The writing is character driven with a clear descriptive voice to bring the enclave and aspects of Caleb’s journey alive. Focusing on family, relationships, self preservation and personal advancement it was almost Dickensian in spirit while mirroring many of the global issues in the present time. This allows for reflection and hopefully provides an impetus to avoid such a humanitarian crisis while seeing that the future is with us today.
It is hard to distance yourself from issues of child trafficking, unaccompanied minors and slave labour. The aspect of climate change also although obliquely referenced is one we cannot also avoid.
This isn’t an tract written by Greta Thunberg however, but a considered novel, told with thought and great skill that focuses on a young child Caleb and his journey may live long in your imagination.
Profile Image for Siobhan.
245 reviews40 followers
November 12, 2021

Bridge 108 is a short dystopian novel about migrants escaping southern Europe which has been ravaged by drought and wild fires, and attempting to reach the UK.

It is told from multiple points of view which I really like, but our main character is young Caleb. Separated from his mother on the road, he is trafficked by a woman to an enclave in Manchester and kept as slave labour in the textile industry.

I'll not say much else about the plot, but we meet lots of other characters involved in Caleb's journey throughout. It's an easy read, definitely a page turner!

I was worried that with such a short book we wouldn't reach a satisfactory ending, but I'm quite pleased with how the story came together.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tina.
723 reviews41 followers
January 10, 2020
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

A poignant and timely story about forced migration, unlawful immigration, and the hurdles we face trying to adapt to systems that are inherently antagonistic to us. It is a book that is both disheartening and hopeful at the same time, with interesting and sympathetic characters.

The shifting perspectives in this story make it very interesting. Had the entire thing been in Caleb’s point of view it would have gotten tedious, but instead, we’re given a child’s perspective for the first little bit, then shift between him and different adults, all of whom encounter him at different times. This allows for blanks to be filled that Caleb, as a child, is unable to fill for us readers, which also gave us a different view on the adults in his life. Someone who seems hostile or harsh is later revealed to have simply made a mistake or a similar misconception.

The author really put a lot of thought into what life would be like for people living in different levels of the social hierarchy. We are given a view to the indentured, paid workers, leaders, civilians, even the well-off at one point. All these builds an interesting, yet completely feasible future – especially given what’s happening now with wildfires and natural resources around the world.

Yet, I would have liked a little more exposition (even later in the story) as to what these disasters are, how other countries are handling refugees, and perhaps a chapter with someone in the government. While I understand all the chapters are linked by Caleb, there was likely a way to show a broader view of the situation, as effective as the first person was.

I started out mildly intrigued by the story and ended up wholly impressed by the subtle intelligence behind what it was trying to say about migration, especially in our world where it’s said something like 1 billion coastal dwellers will be displaced by global warming in decades to come. Where will they go?

Nothing about Caleb’s journey was melodramatically terrible (though it obviously was not pleasant for him), which makes sense why people are just putting up with it. What we can endure, we tend to just accept after awhile.
Profile Image for Andy Weston.
2,345 reviews136 followers
July 28, 2020
A dystopian tale of refugees working illegally in the north of England.
It was if moderate interest, but lacked substance. It may work if aimed at the young adult (12-15 year old) market.
It touches on themes of post-Brexit Britain and modern slavery but doesn’t delve deep enough to make either a theme.
1,138 reviews8 followers
February 18, 2020
Bridge 108 is a dystopian fiction book about England after “the fire” when there are a flood of migrants coming up from Europe and the English are divided between people who received inoculation to addictions and other socially undesirable qualities, and those older or poorer members of society who have not.

This book is a lot to take in. First, enhanced people who are all rich...quite on the nose for today’s rich upper class who outsource a lot of the grunt work that the rest of us have to do, like cooking, cleaning, actual work. Second, seems like this is a near-term future world where climate change has already hit the earth hard, though it’s not explicitly said (or if it is, I missed that part). In this world, the rich are not just enhanced to be genetically superior (as it’s called in the novel), but they live in luxurious estates built using a 3D printer. Meanwhile, in the enclaves, people live on top of each other in apartment buildings where they’ve stopped putting bathrooms in each unit. While the rich have monstrously big homes, the rest of the nation struggles in increasingly terrible conditions.

But, make no mistake, this book is about immigration. It’s set in England, and obviously Brexit was probably top-of-mind during the writing process (or maybe it wasn’t; this book is set in the same world as the author’s debut book in 2013, pre-Brexit). But the migrant detention centers are definitely a nod toward the disgusting American concentration camps on the Southern border. There is also no winning for the immigrants in this story or in real life. In this story, main character Caleb goes from one bad situation to another, unable to get by and forced into indentured servitude. The story strikes a chord with what prospective immigrants face when trying to come to America (not to mention echoing how some early immigrants to America managed the cost), except this isn’t unique to America. Witness the Syrian refugee crisis that’s been going on in Europe since the early aughts.

The book is written from several different characters’ perspectives, though migrant Caleb is the narrator in about half the chapters. His story is told through multiple viewpoints, from his flight on foot with his mother from Spain, to his hoodwink by Skylark, a trafficker, to his time working for Ma Lexie and many other awful situations.

4.5 ⭐️s.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Amanda.
10 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2020
If you like or are even mildly curious about thoughtful, smart, socially speculative/dystopian fiction then Bridge 108 is for you. Charnock has given us interesting and believable characters with compelling motivations that shed light on the deterministic but often naive actions of social actants in a world struggling with social and economic divisions.

Caleb and other point of view characters provide distinct interpretations of the same reality, revealing layers of social conditioning in their individual analyses of the obstacles before them. But you don't need an interest in social relations to enjoy this book. Despite backstories of despair, each character is given opportunities to reveal an inherent and universal drive to survive without doing harm.

This is near-future fiction at its best -- gently disclosing the impact of current conditions through individual experience and hope.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
Author 5 books25 followers
October 4, 2019
Man, did I have a hard time with this book. I started out really enjoying it, and I think that was the problem. If I just hated it from the get-go, when it started to go in strange directions that I didn't enjoy I would have just written off the whole experience and quit reading. Instead, I got really frustrated that I wasn't able to follow the story I became invested in.

Ultimately, for me, reading this book was like trying to view a really beautiful painting at a museum but having your view continually obstructed by a bunch of tourists standing in the way.

While the writing was lovely, I think right away I was a little disappointed there there isn't a huge amount of world-building in this book. I think since it's a dystopian novel, I expected way more information about that world--what happened, who's been affected, how that has changed society. Instead we view the world through the very narrow lens of one kid who lives in an environment that doesn't seem terribly different from our own world. (For example, hints are dropped about there being a water shortage, but everyone in the story seems to be drinking plenty--the kid even works for a time at a fish farm).

However the lack of world-building (and the fact that "Bridge 108 figures such a low-stakes role in the whole plot) wasn't even the part that bugged me. It was the creative choice to switch narrators each chapter. At first, I felt like this added a lot of depth to the story, but after awhile it simply became a distraction. I wanted to learn more about Caleb's story, not that some guy who owns a junkyard likes to have sex in the mornings, or that some "Simulant" (would have LOVED to know more about them) doesn't like to cook and wants to right an administrative wrong.

At first, I thoughts all of the distracting changes of perspective would add up to something great, but then I realized that 3/4 of the book was done and we'd had little to no forward momentum on the main story. At that point in the book suddenly things shift forward 4 years and we never revisit most of those characters we've spent time getting to know. Not sure what the point was in learning their point of view when it seemed to come at the expense of the Caleb (and even Ma Lexie), and the main plot of the book.

Like I said, I didn't hate this book, just found it disappointing. Perhaps that's just a personal choice though and others will connect with it better.

Thanks to the author and NetGalley for granting me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Zoe L..
390 reviews14 followers
February 19, 2020
Bridge 108 is a sharp and witty new dystopian story. Imagine The Giver mixed with The Outsiders and you have this new story. As I was reading this I was instantly reminded of the classic ya stories. The story is easy to read without being dull. The undertones of what it means to live in a post apocalyptic world add a layer to the decisions made by the characters.

This is a book that finally made me rejoice from seeing multiple perspectives. Primarily this story is an account of Caleb and how he finds his way after being thrust into this new life. The multiple perspectives give us a chance to see into Calebs mind and how he has survived this long even though he is only twelve years old. But they also allow us to glimpse into the minds of the adults in Caleb’s life and how their thoughts and actions differ from what Caleb believes. It is a true case of utilizing unreliable narrators against one another to unfold the true story.

The writing both gives away a lot of information as well as withholds a lot from the reader. We are given tidbits and snippets of information on what happened to the world from the eyes of the characters memories. This unreliability of “memory diving” helps to darken the tone of the book. We are not sure of exactly what happened to make the world this way. We are not sure of the validity of the information from the characters. But what we do know is that every person is in survival mode, which means the no one can be trusted.

The characters were all very interesting to me. I like the juxtaposition between the mind of a child and the mind of the adults in this new and terrible world. The characters are dealing with the rippling shocks of wildfires, climate change, and forced migration from “the fire.” One part of society is functioning on chips that extinguish any chance of addiction and other undesirable qualities. Our characters live on the other side of humanity. The humans that still have their “spark,” but are also desperately trying to survive amidst a society of hive minded individuals.

You can view my full review and giveaway on my blog! I also post a lot of similar books!

Reader | Bookstagrammer | Blogger | Reviewer
@ya.its.lit - https://www.instagram.com/ya.its.lit/
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Profile Image for Mini.
126 reviews
April 2, 2020
Cool concept, not great execution and the story was all over the place.
Profile Image for Gareth Beniston.
76 reviews5 followers
March 28, 2020
Exceptional. Full of empathy and understanding. Clear-eyed and tough but full of compassion too. Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for draxtor.
28 reviews6 followers
February 10, 2020
I have become a Anne Charnock super-fan, ploughing through her oeuvre in short order. I love her super subtle world building and although her books are fairly slim [compared to what I normally "consume"] her pacing is so incredibly perfect: she takes her time and that creates deep empathy. Of course it is impossible to read "Bridge 108" outside of the global migration crises, triggered for the most part by the climate crises. The economic system - the one that we still fetishize despite all evidence that it will destroy even the folks at the top - is the evil villain but in its full dimension because the "losers" of globalization in this narrative do for the most part NOT join in solidarity which [duh!!] is the only way [IMHO] to turn on the corner in neoliberal hell however the end is uplifting as one decision by one of the many protagonists [all in first-person with shifting viewpoints] leads to what I have to read as a new class consciousness which subsequently MUST lead to turning the power structure upside down. Now: am I reading way to much into this story? Is it because as of late I am "inhaling" economic theory and sociological books by the dozen? Possibly. Anyhow: Anne Charnock is awesome!
89 reviews17 followers
October 13, 2019
From netgalley - quick review for the moment:

* was intrigued by the climate change angle so picked it up
* not YA - you don't get the close relationship with the narrator typical of YA, and the narrator is 12 for most of the book
* super depressing...moral of the story seems to be that
* depressing books are okay but I wasn't connected with the character. Sure, I felt fear for him at acutely scary moments, but nothing personal. There was also no momentum or goal (apart from survival and not being deported, I suppose ... but when the story takes place over five years it'd be nice to have some sort of time pressure). I tried to explain the book to my friends earlier and it was just like 'he was here, then he ran away and was here, then he was here, then he was here' - very meandering.
* the character is not very good, e.g. a woman he's working with dies of dehydration and he steals her necklace to sell. I get it but jesus could we please have a single morally light character?
108 reviews2 followers
April 6, 2020
I have received a kindle copy in a goodreads giveaway.
I love dystopian novels but could not get into this one. From the beginning, it just feels like you’ve been dropped into the center of a story with no background and I couldn’t finish as it was taking too long to make any sense.
Profile Image for Tracy.
2,241 reviews11 followers
August 13, 2020
This is not my normal genre, but a neighbor gave it to me to read. I felt like it was an interesting concept, but it just didn’t connect with me.
Profile Image for Ren HappilyBuriedInBooks.
88 reviews13 followers
February 5, 2020
I wasn’t ready for it to end!
Bridge 108 hooked me from the start and I scarcely put it down. Typically, this would warrant five full stars from me, especially as it doesn’t conform to the dime-a-dozen dystopian/coming-of-age/first-love script.
But I wanted more; I needed more. I can reconcile an open ending. I get some satisfaction from a neat closure, but I can reconcile an open ending. The bones were there, but the meat was lean. The implants, simulants, inoculations were not well fleshed out and didn’t add anything vital or exciting to the book. Similarly, the story’s backdrop of the impact of climate change, depletion of natural resources, and lack of renewable energy are reasons for the state of things, but it’s not made clear how these things drive the story and came to be. Despite these things, I read this book ravenously and enjoyed it.

I liked seeing the story through the lens of numerous characters of varying socioeconomic strata. It was, in my opinion, the best thing about the book. It was a most influential strategy in showing readers the disparity and disconnect between residents, illegals, traffickers, migrants.

Thanks to 47North and NetGalley for the provided e-ARC and the opportunity to read this book. My review is honest, unbiased, and voluntary. #NetGalley #Bridge108

Reviews Published Professional Reader 50 Book Reviews 80% LibraryThing Early Reviewers First To Read Ren HappilyBuriedInBooks's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)
658 reviews3 followers
August 31, 2020
Bridge 108 is an expansion of the author’s novella The Enclave which won the BSFA Award for 2017 (https://locusmag.com/2018/04/2017-bsf...) and is set against a backdrop of environmental degradation (drought, wildfires) in Southern Europe which has precipitated an exodus northwards. On such a journey fourteen-year-old Caleb was separated from his mother and trafficked to Britain where he has ended up in one of the enclaves set outside the mainstream of society. ‘Normal’ (non-enclave citizens) are chipped and inoculated and so cannot become addicted to drugs, gambling or alcohol nor apparently commit crime.

Life in an enclave among the unchipped ‘organics’ (who either refused the chipping - because you lose your spark - or else never had it for some other reason such as crime in the family) is not quite dog-eat-dog but the police venture there infrequently and prefer to ignore the goings-on, unless it involves illegal immigrants or murder. When we start, Caleb is working for Ma Lexie, a dealer in upcycled clothing, whose business is in turn a subsidiary of the dodgy family enterprises of her late husband, Ruben. Caleb hasn’t quite settled down in the enclave (he is locked in at night) and exchanges messages with the similarly trapped Odette on the adjacent roof via a weighted plastic bottle.

The story is told from the viewpoints of Caleb, Ma Lexie, Skylark (the young girl who trafficked Caleb,) Jerome (an undercover immigration officer,) Jaspar (Ma Lexie’s de facto boss,) and Officer Sonia, a simulant - further beyond the chipped members of society than they are to the unchipped ‘organics’ of the enclaves - who is portrayed as lacking in empathy. Apart from Caleb, who relates five of the ten chapters, each of the others has only one, allowing Charnock to provide us with a cross-section of the attitudes of the inhabitants of her future world.

On a trip to the market Caleb upsets Ma Lexie and his mistrust hardens. He agrees to escape the enclave with Odette who has her own reasons for fleeing. They travel at night towards Wales along the Shropshire Union Canal but Caleb quickly gives Odette the slip when he notices blood under her fingernails. He finds relatively easy work on a vineyard and some time later is befriended by Jerome who helps him avoid an immigration raid. They travel together and at Bridge 108 on the Shropshire Union Canal Caleb is persuaded by Jerome to hand himself in to the authorities. His indentured life on the path towards full citizenhood is not simple, nor is that path guaranteed, but is an illustration of the destination towards which UK domestic policy has been heading these many years.
Profile Image for Paul.
886 reviews36 followers
May 26, 2020
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

Read something about "Bridge 108," immediately downloaded it to my Kindle, read it in two sittings. A short, fast, fascinating glimpse of a near future where climate change is driving not only equatorial populations northward, but southern European ones as well, in this case to a still-livable (though considerably warmer than it is today) and seemingly prospering England.

The story is told from differing viewpoints, all in the first person as events unfold, with almost no exposition on how society and the economy is organized, or exactly what is happening in the world to drive populations north. We learn about fires and drought, failed economies, and worldwide desperation through the incidental recollections of indivicual characters, notably those of Caleb, the young boy who is more or less the protagonist of the tale. It takes skill to explain things this way, and Anne Charnock succeeds.

I was struck by the theme of social and economic inequality in the novel's England, depicted starkly in the contrast between the barebones enclaves where unchipped workers are housed, nominally under government control but in fact ruled by criminal clans, and the posh country suburbs where educated and chipped managers and professional classes live.

We learn that all English children are inoculated against addictive behavior (substance abuse, alcoholism) and that those citizens who can pass intelligence tests are chipped to further enhance their intelligence. A separate class of "stimulants," human but almost cyborg-like, lacking emotion and empathy, are the logicians of the new society.

Then there are the desperate immigrants ... mostly adults, so the childhood inoculations native English citizens get generally don't "take"; a troublesome population, unassimilateable and unchipped, if not immediately returned to the countries they escaped from allowed to perform indentured labor for set periods of time; upon completion, if lucky, allowed to become laborers in the enclaves ... much more likely, though, to be repatriated anyway after serving their time: the immigrants' experience a grim and brief escape from the hellholes they came from. If "Bridge 108" doesn't make you think about how today's societies treat economic and political immigrants (and how we'll soon be treating climate immigrants), you might just be a stimulant yourself.

Thought-provoking and well told. My only wish is that it was longer!
Profile Image for Suncerae.
512 reviews
November 3, 2019
Twelve-year-old Caleb is separated from his mother on the way to England as they flee the drought and wildfires of southern Europe. Outside Manchester, Caleb is picked up by traffickers, but lands an easy job making bespoke clothing items for a woman who seems kind. But after she hits him, Caleb takes another opportunity to escape. He hides in the woods, finds another work situation, then escapes again. He remains optimistic, learning new trades, deciding to put his trust in only a few adults. But making a way in the world as an underage illegal isn’t easy.

Bridge 108 is ostensibly a dystopian scifi, but the setting is more a backdrop to Caleb’s coming-of-age story. Late in the twenty-first century, global warming ravages the planet, and refugees flock to England. Sprinkles of advanced technology enhance the near-future world. Caleb misses his opportunity to get brain-chipped because his sister is caught vandalizing, making his genes suspect. But upon entering the system in England, he accepts the inoculations; some say you’re not the same person after, but Caleb doesn’t mind not feeling so angry all the time, and he doesn’t have to worry about becoming addicted to alcohol.

My favorite aspect of the novel is the multiple POVs, with Caleb as the primary storyteller. But he’s surrounded by a slew of adults, some recurring, some one-offs, and their perspectives add a lot of clarity to Caleb’s situation. It’s a complicated world, and the grownups do the best they can, but no one person has the power to fix the problem, and those in the system have even less of an idea how to make things better.

Unfortunately, the pacing and motivation is lacking. Caleb runs away, finds a place to stay for a while, then runs away again. Caleb suffers from a variety of worldly dangers, but he doesn’t have a goal that unifies the plot, so the story feels very meandering and episodic, without any real end point. Without any friends or connections, Caleb can only rely on rumors to know what his options are, so he ends up making a lot of decisions quickly but without much expectation.

Recommended for fans of dystopian scifi, particularly with a interest in child trafficking and immigration.
Profile Image for Casia Pickering.
Author 18 books58 followers
March 12, 2020
I received a copy of this book for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation made for this review.

Bridge 108 is a short near-future book that follows a short snippet of a young boy's life. It is written in multiple narrations that give a few details of the world of human trafficking and what the world could become if the climate does not change.

Though well written, I think I would have preferred if the book was longer. There wasn't enough information about the climate, the government, or pretty much how anything worked. In a way, this makes the book unique. The reader can make their own decision on what they've read. However, I personally would have liked more about how the family worked or Ma Lexie and Caleb's relationship. It made for the ending to be a bit confusing for me.

That isn't to say the book is bad. It isn't. As I said before, it is well written. Charnock does a great job making you like the characters she gives you with the little space she has to tell the story. This is only the story of a boy who grows to teenhood, but not the story of the world itself. With that in mind, it is a book that you could easily pick through and make a slew of different theories. For that, my literary theorist brain is in love and I may take a gander at it again through a theorist lens.

If anything, this book only whets the reader's curiosity in wanting more and for that, I ask Ms. Charnock to write about this world again and give me more. I am intrigued and I would love to know more about how everything has become this.

Final Rating: 3/5
Profile Image for Morgane Krauth.
80 reviews6 followers
July 24, 2019
Thank you to NetGalley and 47North for providing me with an ARC for this book in exchange for an honest review.

Though I did enjoy this book quite a bit, some things really bothered me.

First of all, this book is told from multiple perspectives but we do have a main character that we see more than the others : that did not work for me. Though I understand the choice as it allowed the reader to get more info about the world the book is set in that our mc doesn't know, a lot of it seemed unnecessary and I was just left mostly in the unknown about what happened to all of those characters. I would have better enjoyed either a book told from one perspective or a book entirely told from multiple perspectives (like the Passage trilogy in the same genre).

Second of all, some parts of the book just seemed added in to explain the rest and I felt that in the writing ; some parts I thought were well written, not too flowery, just the right amount of description but others were so matter-of-fact with a bit of drama (that was never resolved, where are all the side characters seriously?).

To always end a good note, I did like that the story was very character-driven and I also quite enjoyed the dystopia aspect of it, which made me think a lot of The Darkest Minds and of the Passage trilogy due to the living in camps situation. I also liked the issue of immigration that is very relevant to our society today.

Overall would recommend if you like dystopian and character-driven stories but I have read better in this genre.
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321 reviews9 followers
February 16, 2020
Note: This review contains NO spoilers

This is a very interesting read. From the setting to the complexity of the characters, Bridge 108 tackles very real current global social, political, and economic issues. Well, that's how it read. If you're keen on current events, then you'll get this story. Created in this hypothetical world, Anne Charnock created a coming-of-age story of a young boy navigating and surviving in the world and society he lives in. Anne Charnock wrote a thought-provoking and flowing story told in multiple POVs that immerses its readers into their world.

However, the setting, or say world-building, is vague. I get it that the story takes place after some major global events, but there is no elaboration on what it was. Throughout the book, I was wondering what events brought on the "current" state of society that these characters are living in. I would have liked to know what was the driving "force" that led their current society. Yes, we were given vague recounts of memory, but no specific details.

All in all, Bridge 108 is a coming-of-age story of a young boy's journey in the world he lives in and the circumstances that surround him. Although the world-building is vague, the story itself gives a lot to think about in regards to global current events that we are faced with now. I'd say it is well worth the read for all ages.

Reviewer: Jasmine
Disclaimer: We received a free copy for an honest review. All is my own opinion
Profile Image for Dree.
1,583 reviews45 followers
February 18, 2020
This novel takes place in a near-future (and very believable) dystopian England. Immigrants are pouring in from fire-and drought-ravaged Southern Europe. Legally and illegally, with many being trafficked. Charnock has an earlier book that also takes place in this world.

Charnock's world building is what I enjoyed most about the novel, and made me want to know more. England has changed from the world we know. On the legal side are simulants, implants, innoculations, indentured servitude, and right to stay. For citizens, where you live, your job, and whether you receive an implant all depends on how you do on various test. In this novel 12-year-old Caleb became separated from his mother in France, and was trafficked to England. This book follows him as he tries to make his way in England. He's a good worker and serious, but will that be enough?

This very much reads as YA to me--not just because of Caleb's age, but the book is also very clean (no cursing, sex is only alluded to, violence is limited and not graphic at all), and is a quick and easy read. I also think this would be fine for middle grade readers (if they are reading Hunger Games, this one is certainly fine).

I love dystiopias, and I wanted to know more about this world: the innoculations, implants, and simulants, but those may be addressed in the other book. It is also clear from the ending that there will be a third book, which I will be reading. I have the first on hold at the library.
Thanks to Net Galley and 47North for providing me with an e-galley of this book.
6 reviews
December 27, 2020
Well-written, but in the end I wasn’t really sure what the point was.

The book takes place in a near future England, with a young migrant boy from Spain who has been trafficked and ended up in a workshop for a local gang. The story follows this boy, Caleb, through various parts of this system, alternating between his and others’ viewpoints.

The world is reasonably well set up, though patchy (Some people have ‘chips’ in their head but still carry phones. There are advanced simulants but no computers). The characters are well described. There are nice details.

Caleb is smart, resourceful, self-controlled and determined. In fact he seems to have no flaws, and the book suffers for it. He reminds me of the idea that everyone thinks that they would be great if they became homeless, because they would do it ‘right’; or the politicians who spend a week on benefits in order to ‘prove’ it’s possible. His situation doesn’t get better, but it doesn’t really get any worse, and he always seems to be able to make the best of things.

So in the end I just didn’t get it. Caleb is neither a victim nor a hero – he just ‘is’. Characters appear for a chapter or two but then go with no real point. Sci-fi concepts are raised but not fleshed out – and I didn’t really understand why this was presented a sci-fi at all, it’s pretty much what’s already happening. There are rare moments of threat, but almost immediately everything returns to more of a dismal banality. Perhaps that’s the point?

Profile Image for Jessica Gilmore.
Author 185 books71 followers
July 21, 2019
At some point in the future, maybe a decade, maybe a century, an indentured illegal refugee Caleb is sewing shirts up on the rooftop of an apartment building in an Enclave - part slum, part suburb ringing aa wealthier city, housing people who are not quite desirable, people who have chosen to not, or not been allowed, to be microchipped with a chip which makes them better citizens, suppressing the urges which make them wasteful and unpredictable members of society. Caleb has come from Spain, a country where water is now scarce, hoping for asylum and citizenship in the UK where resources, thanks to recycling, aquaponics and rain, still exist. But a child on his own is in danger from nearly all those around him and Caleb has to grow up far too fast to survive.
Bridge 108 is told by multiple perspectives, each giving us an insight into this at once and unfamiliar England; Caleb himself, Ma Lexy who has indentured him, Skylark who first found him, Ma Lexy's gangster brother in law and immigration agents, all linked by Caleb himself, even as they occupy different places and spaces. Chillingly prescient and tautly written, this dystopia feels far too relevant as we stare Climate Change in the face whilst policies around refugees get more and more inflexible. Truly a story for our times. Recommended.
Profile Image for Lenoire.
951 reviews32 followers
February 14, 2020
In the late twenty-first century, drought and wildfires ravage southern Europe causing residents to flee. When twelve-year-old Caleb and his mother make the journey north, he becomes separated from her and falls victim to human traffickers. He becomes enslaved in an enclave outside Manchester but, he uses the opportunity to improve his situation. Even when his situation looks dire, Caleb never loses hope.

Caleb meets another victim of trafficking and together they look for better opportunities. He hides in the woods and searches for a new place to call home. As Caleb searches for his path, he realizes he can't trust anyone because he might end up in a perilous situation. 

 I enjoyed reading this novel as the writing flowed smoothly. The book grabbed my attention and kept it until the end. I enjoyed reading about Caleb and his adventures in finding a place to belong. I liked that the author included different points of view in the book but, I felt like some characters should have been included. I would have liked to have read about his friend in the enclave roof next door and her motivations. The book was fast-paced but, lacked a bit of world-building. The author mentioned a few things in passing but, I wanted to know more about the tech or the political landscape. I felt like this book would be a great introductory novel into an awesome series about a new "world".
Profile Image for matt.
46 reviews4 followers
September 9, 2019
Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So, I am a massive dystopian novel lover and always have been. I love the many different approaches that folks take, and they often are extremely timely for what is happening in the world.

This story takes place in England after what seems like a major climate crisis throughout Europe. It follows the main character, Caleb, and his journey from refugee to human trafficking to escapee, etc. and the many folks he meets along the way.

While it was a fairly quick read, I will be honest that I was a little underwhelmed throughout. Some elements never really landed and the overall story left me wanting a lot more. I felt like the characters never really developed and there was very little back story, so that it just felt like a very bare-bones outline of multiple perspectives of characters. Multiple times I felt like it was building up to something that could be really exciting, but each time I was let down.

In spite of this, it is definitely worth giving a try if you are someone who enjoys dystopian type lit.
Profile Image for Marti (Letstalkaboutbooksbaybee).
1,294 reviews119 followers
February 12, 2020
Thanks to Wunderkind PR for sending me a free copy of this book to review! All opinions are my own.

This book is set in a dystopian future, taking place in Europe after wildfires ravaged half of the continent and follows a teenage boy named Caleb as he bounces from place to place trying to survive. He is separated from both of his parents, fearing them both dead, and is picked up by traffickers to have him work as a slave for a woman named Ma Lexie. Eventually he escapes and turns himself into the government to work as an indentured servant, but he knows his future is not the one his mother dreamt of for him.

I quite liked this book and the premise. I think that something like this isn’t too far off of the future that awaits us if things go a certain way. My heart hurt for young Caleb and what he’s been put through. My only complaints are that this book just plops you into this world with little backstory and it was confusing to try and figure out the setting at first. This book is also very short, less than 200 pages, and I just wanted a bit more from it.
126 reviews3 followers
September 20, 2019
4.5 stars. This was a pleasant surprise, as I've never heard of this author before and I picked it up on a whim from a NetGalley offer.

I would describe this as speculative fiction. It feels like it could take place anywhere from ten to fifty years in the future, as climate change accelerates northward European migration and countries such as France have to adjust and react. There are a few tech advances described although the story would probably stand up without them.

Each chapter is from the point of view of a different character, many of whom only get one chapter. This largely works very well although there are a couple of awkward moments (one that jumps out is a character explicitly stating his name and occupation; all the other writing feels like natural internal monologue).

The plot was engaging, the characters all worked, the ending was effective, and it was the perfect length. Really enjoyable.
Profile Image for Lianne.
65 reviews2 followers
July 14, 2019
Science fiction novels tend to be a platform for exploring current sociopolitical and environmental issues and envisioning a prescient glimpse of possible futures. Anne Charnock’s novella Bridge 108 predicts a twenty-first century where climate change has had devastating effects. Wildfires and water shortages in southern Europe have caused mass migration from the Mediterranean rim. The engrossing dystopian story follows twelve-year-old Caleb journey as well as the perspective of the other characters he encounters.

The writing is superb, and the plot combines the perfect amount of suspense and anticipation. I was so immersed that analyzing literary devices and my metacognition flew out the window. The integration of the characters is seamless. I don’t like spoilers so I won’t delve into details, but I look forward to discussing the end of the book with other readers.
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