The New Wilderness

The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

As seen:

  • Booker Prize 2020

By Diane Cook

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1 review

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Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away.

The smog and pollution of the overdeveloped, overpopulated metropolis they call home is ravaging her lungs.

Bea knows she cannot stay in the City, but there is only one alternative: The Wilderness State.

Mankind has never been allowed to venture into this vast expanse of untamed land.

Until now. Bea and Agnes join eighteen other volunteers who agree to take part in a radical experiment.

They must slowly learn how to live in the unpredictable, often dangerous Wilderness, leaving no trace on their surroundings in their quest to survive.

But as Agnes embraces this new existence, Bea realises that saving her daughter’s life might mean losing her in ways she hadn’t foreseen. At once a blazing lament of our contempt for nature and a deeply humane portrayal of motherhood, The New Wilderness is an extraordinary, urgent novel from a celebrated new literary voice.

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16 Oct 2020

Julia M

An unusual book...definitely not the type that I would normally choose to read but, right from the start, I found the story to be most compelling. I did look forward to picking up the book and reading it, each day, despite the 'difficult' subject matter, although 'enjoyment' is not really the word I would use to describe the feelings I got from the book. I felt incredibly sad at the end.

I thought that the characters were well created and I felt like I knew them. I particularly loved Agnes' character. As she grew into her teenage years she experienced a whole host of complex feelings which emerge in someone who is no longer a child but not quite an adult - despite Agnes being determined to show that she was! I felt that the author conveyed this complexity well and I enjoyed sharing Agnes' thoughts and feelings.

However, I found myself questioning the behaviours of some characters, which seemed somewhat too far-fetched and exaggerated to be entirely believable. For example Bea's behaviour after her return from her escape to the city, especially with regard to Glen and Agnes. Perhaps it was part of the 'alpha female' role which she assumed on her return, but I questioned it.

The book was full of beautiful descriptions of landscape and nature and I felt totally immersed in the wilderness. Though I began to think that perhaps page after page of these descriptions became a little too much, as the book progressed, being quite a long book.

Parts of the story were incredibly poignant and made me cry.... for example the death of Glen and the capture of Agnes. And personally, I found the descriptions of hunting the animals difficult to read - I'd never survive in the wilderness!

Overall, a very thought-provoking book. As I get older, I do feel more 'at one' with nature and am increasingly saddened by what is happening to our world, so this story conveyed a very poignant and important message.

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