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Publisher's Summary

Washington Post Notable Book of Fiction of 2020

NPR Best Book of 2020

Buzzfeed Best BOOK OF 2020

Shortlisted for the Booker Prize

"The environmental novel of our times." (Lemn Sissay, Booker Prize Judge)

"A virtuosic debut, brutal and beautiful in equal measure."  (Emily St. John Mandel, New York Times best-selling author of Station Eleven)

Margaret Atwood meets Miranda July in this wildly imaginative debut novel of a mother's battle to save her daughter in a world ravaged by climate change; A prescient and suspenseful book from the author of the acclaimed story collection, Man V. Nature

Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away, consumed by the smog and pollution of the overdeveloped metropolis that most of the population now calls home. If they stay in the city, Agnes will die. There is only one alternative: the Wilderness State, the last swath of untouched, protected land, where people have always been forbidden. Until now. 

Bea, Agnes, and eighteen others volunteer to live in the Wilderness State, guinea pigs in an experiment to see if humans can exist in nature without destroying it. Living as nomadic hunter-gatherers, they slowly and painfully learn to survive in an unpredictable, dangerous land, bickering and battling for power and control as they betray and save one another. 

But as Agnes embraces the wild freedom of this new existence, Bea realizes that saving her daughter’s life means losing her in a different way. The farther they get from civilization, the more their bond is tested in astonishing and heartbreaking ways. 

At once a blazing lament of our contempt for nature and a deeply humane portrayal of motherhood and what it means to be human, The New Wilderness is an extraordinary novel from a one-of-a-kind literary force.

©2020 Diane Cook (P)2020 HarperAudio

What listeners say about The New Wilderness

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

meh

Something about this story just doesn't ring true. So little backstory to explain the historical context that many aspects of the scenario and plot seem arbitrary, and the characters for the most part just don't seem particularly intelligent. Obviously meant as an allegory along the lines of Jemison, but apart from the generally depressing nature of the basic cli-fi premise, it was hard to understand what lesson to take. Agnes Dei? really?

6 people found this helpful

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  • BB
  • 04-06-21

No real point

I wanted to like this, I really did.

I’m not quite finished with it. I’m now just completing it make sure I don’t miss something poignant.

None of the characters were likable nor endearing. The story feels repetitive without any real meat.

When I think about it, this is story is very close to life for most people, uneventful.

I just wish there was one character I felt anything for. All of their personalities were very dry.

Meh is right.