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The International Writers Magazine: Young Adult Fiction Review:

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Hodderchildrens (Teen)
ISBN: 978-0-340-97015-7
Published Sept 04 2008

Sam North review

This is the UK and Europe’s future. Carbon rationing, civil disobedience, petty officials running your life, the death of consumerism and cheap holidays, any holidays abroad as the economy collapses with no energy to keep it going.

This is Laura Brown’s world, 16, living with a dysfunctional family, lusting after the geek Ravi Datta next door, hating her anti-social sister who longs for Ibiza, but ends up in the Carbon Offenders Recovery Programme. Her Dad teaches Travel and Tourism at College and with no one travelling anymore, he’s made redundant. His whole life disintegrates. Her mother discovers she can’t stand her Dad and vice versa and school’s a mess with Laura failing everything. Everyone in the household has these electronic carbon ration cards and when it’s empty, you’re out of luck, unless you’re friends with Tracey down the road who’s running a black market in energy.

Laura can’t even charge her mobile without the smart meters installed in every house finding out. Laura hates rationing and envies Europe where life is still free.

This is an all too plausible picture of the UK that may well come to this well before 2015, as all the nuclear reactors pass their sell by date and the Russians turn off the gas and oil. On top of which, with climate change, it completely stops raining and turns the whole country into a desert. Laura can’t even shower anymore.

It’s gritty, depressing and real and should be read by any teen worried about the future of the UK and Europe. Laura’s whole life disintegrates all around her, but through it and with the aide of Arthur (89) next door who remembers rationing from the war, she finds strength and exactly who her real friends are. Her dad discovers gardening and swaps her mother’s car for a pig and some chickens. Everyone has to survive anyway you can. This just isn’t cool for a girl who plays bass in a wannabe famous hard punk band Dirty Angels. In this new world you literally sink or swim and Laura tries to make sense of it, along with Kim, her sister, Adi, the boy in her band Dirty Angels and Ravi, the boy next door, who perhaps isn’t right for her after all. Laura has a year to grow up or give up as life literally turns to crap all around her.

This is her daily diary. It is frank, honest and gripping. And when the drought finally ends the rain goes on forever and life gets even worse!

Staci has brought all the key problems facing the UK together in a fascinating narrative, with an all too real scenario, that perhaps topples over too much with the Thames Barrier failing as well. (There were enough problems with family melt down, no energy and drought). But it’s a fast compulsive read and offers genuine insight into the British psyche. Perhaps we all enjoy misery too much to deserve better. Nevertheless, what’s a girl to do, even as the world turns on her, Laura is still looking for love and affection, she has needs – these things will never change and she has a good heart. You find yourself liking her, even though she finds it hard to adjust to this arid existence. It makes you think, well how would you cope?

The Carbon Diaries should instantly be put onto the GCSE reading list. Kids need to know what it will be like in the next decade and get involved now.

© Sam North September 1st 2008
Editor: Hackwriters
Sam North’s new young adult novel ‘Mean Tide’ was published in the summer of 2008.

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