Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Beyond the walls of Mythen Rood is a world full of plants and animals that will kill you. Koli Woodsmith has lived all his life there, dreaming of becoming a Rampart and protecting his town, and the girl he wishes was his. But when he starts to doubt the word of the Ramparts, he uncovers truths that are better kept hidden, as well as finding a very special friend who will guide him through this unrecognisable world.

It’s not a stretch to imagine plants turning against us, we have brambles that tear our skin and nettles that sting us, not to mention the carnivorous plants who currently make do with insects. In Koli’s world, seeds bury into flesh and hollow you out as they grow. Trees will snare you as you walk past. They are dormant in the dark and winter months are safer.

One by one, behind me and up ahead and all around, they sprung their traps, lashing up out of the dirt with their spiked ends curled like sickles, to catch animals as was running there.

The book is of two parts, firstly setting the scene of the town in which Koli was brought up and its social structure. It shows how tech from the past is in short supply and is used to keep the town safe, but only if you have the gift to use it. I was glad to move away from Mythen Rood in the second half, as it had covered enough about the dystopian nature of their settlement and their power struggles.

The second half was more interesting to me, with more of the world at large explored, how the plants behave rather than Koli explaining it to us. He sees how others choose to live, how they manage to survive in this post-apocalyptic world. And I loved Monomo, despite her concept seeming to have come straight from a Black Mirror episode. I don’t really want to spoil who she is, but I loved her chirpiness and she mirrored my reactions to Koli’s naivety.

It never stops amazing me how a story can deliver you out of your own self, even in the worst of times.

Sometimes it does come across that Carey is a screenwriter. I would have liked more information on the flora and fauna of this world, which is a future version of ours. A little is told about what happened and there are hints that more might be revealed in future instalments. Without further information there were things that seemed odd, like how they still eat apples, yet it’s implied that all trees are to be feared. Would tree fruits not be too high risk? They spend months steeping the wood they use to make sure it’s dead, why would you go round eating their fruit?

I probably would have enjoyed this more as an audiobook as it is written in first person from Koli’s point of view and his grammar is purposefully flawed, to make him sound from a different time. It’s consistent throughout, but this isn’t my favourite thing to read for a whole novel. I noticed how much more absorbed I was when Monomo or Ursala was explaining something in their more current day language.

The Book of Koli is published by Orbit books and is out now in paperback and ebook editions. It’s the first book in a trilogy and all three books are planned for publication this year, so not long to wait to continue the story. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

ATY: 22. A book with the major theme of survival

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