Jane's Reviews > The Ark

The Ark by Annabel Smith
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really liked it
bookshelves: australian, aww2014, female, kindle, specfic, climate

The idea for this book is ingenious. In the 2040s, the world is falling to pieces. A seed bank has been set up in the Snowy Mountains to protect the world's plant stocks. As the Chaos mounts, the director of the seed bank decides to bring the employees and their families inside and lock them away. He says it's to keep them and the plants safe until things calm down, but also implies the giant biotech company which runs the facility has been secretly destroying the world's natural crops and he wants to rescue these seeds from them.
The Ark is a workplace, and the story is told through workplace communications paraphernalia: emails, instant messages, meeting minutes. I'm always delighted when a story acknowledges that most of our lives take place in offices and gives the workplace the literary recognition it deserves. Smith has gone the extra step and created designs and trademarks around each of the communication methods (I love the idea of a messaging system called ParlezVite), and they look great and are quietly hilarious.
The first part of the story is told from the point of view of the wife of one of the employees, out of her depth in a slightly cultish workplace, and deeply worried about the fate of her sister on the outside. The emails between them beautifully capture the panic of suddenly being unable to communicate with someone you know is in trouble.
The second part is utterly brilliant, told through the blog posts of the teenage son of one of the employees, and the comments his friends worldwide leave on them. The language in this section is inspired, the characters tiny but rich. Perhaps a teenager would think it was rubbish, but I thought Smith did a superb job of capturing the anger, humour and tragedy of teenage life at the end of the world. This section had real guts and bravery, real vigour, and it was a delight.
In part three, as the workplace politics take over and things start to go bad in the Ark, the possibility of going outside reemerges, and the Ark inhabitants have to make some difficult decisions.
I would have loved the story to go on a little longer - I would have liked to know more about how the world outside had fared - but other than that I thought this was an excellent book. A great concept, delivered ingeniously; a strong story and believable characters, plus some top-notch jokes and some real terror. I'd like to see more adventurous books like this published in Australia.
[Annabel was kind enough to send me an advance copy. I read it on Kindle, and I haven't yet tried the app.]
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Reading Progress

September 2, 2014 – Started Reading
September 2, 2014 – Shelved
September 2, 2014 – Shelved as: australian
September 2, 2014 – Shelved as: aww2014
September 5, 2014 – Finished Reading
November 24, 2014 – Shelved as: female
November 24, 2014 – Shelved as: kindle
November 24, 2014 – Shelved as: specfic
May 1, 2016 – Shelved as: climate

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Rachel Watts I can't wait to read this one!

message 2: by Joe (new)

Joe Valdez You just sold me an e-book, Jane. I am surprised that this is such a "small" novel. The cover and the blurb seem like the work of a big time author who's been at this for a while. Thanks for putting this on my radar!

Jane Joe wrote: "You just sold me an e-book, Jane. I am surprised that this is such a "small" novel. The cover and the blurb seem like the work of a big time author who's been at this for a while. Thanks for puttin..."
No worries, Joe: hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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