The Wall

A Novel
Narrated by: Will Poulter
Length: 6 hrs and 43 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (163 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of The Debt to Pleasure and Capital returns with a chilling fable for our time.

Ravaged by the Change, an island nation in a time very like our own has built the Wall - an enormous concrete barrier around its entire coastline. Joseph Kavanagh, a new Defender, has one task: to protect his section of the Wall from the Others, the desperate souls who are trapped amid the rising seas outside and are a constant threat. Failure will result in death or a fate perhaps worse: being put to sea and made an Other himself. Beset by cold, loneliness, and fear, Kavanagh tries to fulfill his duties to his demanding captain and sergeant, even as he grows closer to his fellow Defenders. A dark part of him wonders whether it would be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if he had to fight for his life....

John Lanchester - acclaimed as "an elegant and wonderfully witty writer" (New York Times) and "a writer of rare intelligence" (Los Angeles Times) - has crafted a taut, hypnotic novel of a broken world and what might be found when all is lost. The Wall blends the most compelling issues of our time - rising waters, rising fear, rising political division - into a suspenseful story of love, trust, and survival.

©2019 Orlando Books Limited (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Wall

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A dystopian book?

Dystopian fiction is most of the times so far away from current reality. The book describes a nightmarish world that is so nightmarishly close. Excellent book with challenging notions throughout.

3 people found this helpful

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Slow start sneaks up on you and whispers truth

Politics aside, the ideas expressed here are done so quietly and profoundly. it took me a while to grasp that the Defenders on The Wall are probably muss 17 and up with the oldest, the Captain, probably no more than 24. The idea that the sins of the parents are the burden of the children is handled realistically. The interaction between the young soldiers is also realistic as is the reaction of the public to the Defenders and vice versa. Recommended to fans of Margaret Atwood, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Doris Lessong and Mary Doria Russell.

2 people found this helpful

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Are there chapters missing?

There is something wrong with the structure of this book. The fight scenes on the wall are repetitive. I actually went back to check and make sure the same scenes weren't repeated in other chapters. But it was the transition between Chapter 19 and Chapter 20 that made me question the logic of the book. At the end of Chapter 19, the group sees a flotilla of boats. Up until this point, strangers were the enemy. Anyone could turn on you. Punishment was arbitrary and illogical, so I was ready for a fight scene with the people on these ships. Instead, Chapter 20 starts off on day three with everyone getting along. What happened before that? Are there chapters missing? In Chapter 22, everyone sees another boat approaching and their reaction is exactly what I expected between Chapter 19 and Chapter 20. Terror, fear, and dread. Even the children are afraid. I didn't read anymore. After 20 chapters, I have no emotional connection to a single one of the characters. And the actions of the characters seem random, especially in the oppressive, loveless, unforgiving, environment that surrounds them. Between the boring, the repetitive, and the fickle behavior of the characters, I gave up. To The Publisher. This book is difficult to find because there are so many books, and a newspaper, that begin with, "The Wall. . . . " Without the author's name, I couldn't find it. I had to search recent book reviews to find the author's name. I then came back to Audible to find the book.

8 people found this helpful

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it needed far more depth; too many ideas

Longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2019, I didn't read it before the shortlist, but kept it on my TBR knowing that I would eventually read it. That day has finally arrived. The Wall by John Lanchester is a book about climate change, and what happens after a catastrophic event known as The Change has occurred. Narrated in the first person by Joseph Kavanagh, the story begins on the day that Joseph K starts his duty as a Defender. The job is one that keeps him isolated from most of society and working long, boring shifts on The Wall. On its face the book is a dystopian, but Lanchester uses his tale to teach us with allegory. I am sure he is making a statement about Brexit, though as an American who detests politics I must admit that I know far too little about that subject. However, for me, it was also a direct reflection upon Trump's wall. For me there were just too many ideas and themes to think about and none of them came through strong enough. Also, the book isn't groundbreaking. I felt like this one was an author's view of the world's present and coming problems, that were never fully expressed or consolidated into one story.

1 person found this helpful

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Thrilling

It was easy to get into, exciting and thrilling all the way through. Well read.

1 person found this helpful

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Great premise but falls flat.

The idea behind “The Wall” is great in that it’s a dystopian near future story that deals with the modern issues of climate change and immigration, but there are far too many questions left unanswered that could have been easily solved with another 50 pages to the book. Furthermore, it seems like some of the technical details of what the characters are going through was poorly researched and the character development was also severely lacking. None of them were particularly likeable or hateable

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A Slice of Future Time

A tightly woven, incredibly poignant, vision of what future generations may plausibly experience. At base, humans default to in-/out-group behavior, shown so vividly here. Listen to it in conjunction with The Inhospirable Earth for an additional kick to start truly caring for this precious orb.

1 person found this helpful

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it is cold wall

The Wall,” arrives at a moment in which the definition of a wall is a matter of national debate, and it actively invites such associations. As the main character says on the first page, as he searches for words to describe the wall of the title, “You look for metaphors.” The narrator is a young man with the Kafkaesque name of Joseph Kavanagh. He has just arrived at the Wall, “a long low concrete monster” that runs for thousands of kilometers around the periphery of an unnamed island nation, closing it off completely from the outside world. All citizens are required to serve there for two years as Defenders, forming the last line of resistance against the threat of an armed invasion. This recalls the Night’s Watch of “Game of Thrones,” except that the country is recognizably Britain, and the enemies on the other side aren’t supernatural White Walkers, but human beings in rowboats and dinghies.

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It's OK

Some spoilers ahead, I'm afraid. The start is quite a slog. I understand the literary tool of setting a mood by drawing the minutia and monotony in excruciating detail, and I cannot deny it works. I just don't like it as a tool. Perhaps it is used here to contrast life's three regions: within, on, and outside the wall. As I can identify that as a possibility, the tool must work, a bit, at least, but the tone never changes. The story is only ever related in the same flat and pointless manner. Our protagonist only cares about getting off the Wall, but the thought of it seems not to give him any actual hope. So everything is grey, everything is a waste of time and effort. I feel Lanchester misses a great opportunity to investigate society and human nature when he simply skips what could have been an incredibly interesting tension between those who choose to have and those who choose not to have children. In the story, the ones who have no children just find those who do a bit odd, and nothing more is said on the matter. I simply don't buy it. A Great Britain surrounded by a large wall would run into population trouble fast, as is hinted at in the story. And under pressure, humanity tends not to work all that well. There is no way society would not become this awkward, potentially violent mess where childless people consider themselves morally superior to those who make babies, while the "breeders" think they are the more responsible for the future. By and large, we love to hate what we love, and the distinction between having and not having children in a world suffering significant ecological collapse is not likely to be exempt from this. Chewy, the protagonist, is boring as a single, regular, dusty, red brick. Maybe there's a small crack in the brick, but it's not large enough to explore. I mean, he has nothing more to say about the world after everything went to shit than that he hates the previous generation (like so many generations before him), and that he looks forward till military service is over? He has a lucid moment where he reflects on treason towards the end, but that's about it for any individuality and thought. I'm not going to say it was a waste of time to listen to The Wall, but I also do not feel like I leave it having become better in some way, or that I have been shown interesting art or philosophy. Not everything needs to be that, though, and the narration is great at capturing the mood, serving the story up in as good a dressing as can be. For my part, I am glad to put it down, and look forward to more interesting fare ahead.

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Surprise!

I did not expect I would like this book but the reviews were positive enough that I thought I'd give it a go. I was much surprised and pleased to find it quite a bit more interesting than I thought it would be. The main character was well developed and his experiences multi-faceted...exciting, tender, introspective and reasonable, under the circumstances. There were a couple of times when things happened that were totally unexpected, which was another excellent positive to the story. Alas, it had to end and I was left adrift afterwards. (No pun intended since being adrift in the sea is a big part of the story.) Frankly I wanted more story! It felt like we were left without a proper ending....possibly a sequel afoot? Hope so. Highly recommend.

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  • Alex Johns
  • 07-19-19

Good book, great narrator!

Great for those who enjoy a ‘hopeless’ style of dystopian novel, somewhere between 1984 and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, though not quite as good as either. Will Poulter’s performance brings the story to life however & is a real asset to the story telling.