Book review: The Ship – Antonia Honeywell (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

The set-up: The world’s resources have been used up. The Government is finding ways to wipe out the parts of the population they don’t see as valuable. While her dad is gone for long spells trying to keep them safe and fed, 16-year-old Lalage and her mother make dangerous trips to the London Museum to share what they have with the desperate people living there. After an unexpected event, Lalage’s dad Michael reveals what he’s been working on for years: a ship to take them, and the other special people he has chosen, away from this hell. They will sail somewhere new and create a new life.


The review: While it starts as a page-turner (the opening chapter in particular is one of the better examples I’ve read), once aboard, The Ship is more of a thought-provoking novel about the choice between accepting what you’ve been given and wanting more from life than you’re offered. I found Lalage to be a successful narrator, however she does tend to get a bit wordy for a 16-year-old. Honeywell chooses a good cast of characters from the hundreds on the ship without overwhelming the reader with names. Characters such as Tom and Michael are brilliantly infuriating in their refusal to see things from anyone else’s point-of-view. While the ending was fitting, I was hoping to be surprised one last time.


The verdict: Recommended (though the opening 3 chapters were the highlight for me.)






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