For readers that love exciting action-packed adventure stories and films, FloodWorld is perfect. It is full of tense cliffhangers, thrilling chase scenes and hairbreadth escapes as two children, Kara and Joe, fight to confound a ruthless pirate plot.
Imagine London in the future, when rising sea levels have submerged half of the city. Privileged citizens live in the central zone, protected by a huge wall. Meanwhile the less fortunate scrape a living in The Shanties, a squalid area of flooded tower blocks and rickety boardwalks. In this fractured world, the only thing that unites the inhabitants from inside and outside the wall is their fear of a different race: The Mariners.
Shanty children Kara and Joe find themselves embroiled in a world of danger. As they struggle first to escape and then to protect their neighbourhood, they are forced to confront their prejudices and discover that the world is more complicated than they thought.
FloodWorld is pacily written with lots of easy-to-read dialogue which is interleaved with more challenging and descriptive language, making it a good book for moving children on to more demanding reads. Kara provides a strong female role model: clever, courageous and tough, but warm and honest too.
The book could work well either as a recommended read-for-pleasure or a whole class read. Behind the gripping action sequences lie thought-provoking themes of environmental responsibility, truth, prejudice and power. If you are teaching pupils about the environment, you could use this book to introduce the implications of rising sea levels or the importance of marine conservation. For PSHE, it raises questions about how we view people from unfamiliar societies and whether violence is ever justified. In geography, it could provide a quirky take on the topography of London.
The narrative of FloodWorld also has a very cinematic feel, which is not surprising for a writer who used to be a film critic. I really enjoyed this gripping read and I am looking forward to recommending it at school.
Reviewed by: Louisa Farrow
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