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The Wall (2019)

by John Lanchester

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3743448,794 (3.64)39
John Lanchester's long-awaited new novel - an hypnotic dystopian novel exploring the most compelling issues of our time.

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» See also 39 mentions

English (34)  German (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
Fatalist Look in the Future

John Lanchester's "The Wall" is a very well-written book because he puts the reader in the shoes of this terrible, dystopian country. It seems to be purposefully unemotional, a simple listing of events for a young man. In that respect, I found it similar to Albert Camus' "The Stranger."

Readers must accept two central premises at the outset: 1) sea levels have risen substantially, and 2) the world off the island is in chaos. Neither premise is explained, although I was terribly interested to know what was happening on the other side of Great Britain's wall.

The young man has no reason to be hopeful because the future is so bleak. Even after he begins to have feelings for a fellow draftee patrolling the wall, his attitude is still fatalistic. Perhaps this is expressed in the book through the frequent dreary descriptions of life.

Lanchester briefly touches on a fascinating psychological issue. Young people do not talk with older people who knew life before dystopia. Young people blame the older generation for what happened, though they don't seem to dwell very much on this. They simply accept their unloving relationship with their parents, much like they accept their way of life.

Given the premises, it's ideas like this that make the book. Of course there would be a generational gulf. Of course there would be required military service. Of course this society would be militant. Of course no one would have a choice but to accept society as is. These are logical conclusions based on the premises.

As other reviewers have mentioned, the book ends rather abruptly. Perhaps this was purposeful, so as to let readers know that what happens to individuals in this society is unimportant. ( )
  mvblair | Aug 8, 2020 |
3.5/5 stars ( )
  Lisa_Francine | Aug 5, 2020 |
The conclusion felt a little flat but an interesting dystopian thriller up to that point, would probably work better as a film than in novel form - some superb set pieces, give it to Cuarón as a sort of semi-sequel to Children of Men. Would have liked more perspectives and information on how life now operates away from the Wall in post climate-catastrophe Britain but maybe beyond the scope of a relatively short book.

Edit: Highly recommend the audiobook, exceptionally well acted by Will Poulter. ( )
  arewenotben | Jul 31, 2020 |
I'm a little perplexed by this book. It's a hash-up of extremely familiar dystopian tropes with absolutely nothing new and a cliche-ridden, flat delivery. Perhaps it's meant to be an extended fable about Britain post-Brexit, but as a fable, it's boring, predictable, even laughable (change comes like a wave? Seriously?) Other books -- so, so many other books -- have tilled this ground with more freshness and verve. I haven't read this author, but this seems to be a case of reputation getting the book published, not the book itself (his blurbs are spectacular and completely out of alignment with the actual story). ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
A bit on the nose, to start with, but it has a good message and it's not hard to enjoy.
  IridescenceDeep | Jun 28, 2020 |
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In memory of Peggie Geraghty
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It's cold on the Wall.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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