My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The first in a series of what I’m mentally calling enviropocalypse fiction, The Carbon Diaries 2015 is a startlingly plausible look at what may be a few years in our future. Britain has imposed carbon rationing, the first in Europe to do so, and The Carbon Diaries chronicles a year of the new regime now faced by Londoner Laura Brown and her family. Carbon rationing affects everything, and everything in her world changes.
I’ve tried the Carbon Diaries before and not been particularly enthralled. I find the diary format troublesome; it can shift quickly into monotony and it’s hard for me to stay interested in page after page of similarly structured writing, let alone visually similar pages. So I was pleased to discover that it’s worth pushing with this one. It does get better, and persevering with it rewards you with a barnstorming final few months of Laura’s diary. Basically everything goes very very pear-shaped.
That’s not to say that Carbon Diaries doesn’t have its faults. It feels occasionally laborious, sliding into environmental information dumps at various points that provide context for the environmental changes but effectively stifle any plot momentum. It’s interesting that the final part of the book, the bit that I thought worked best, felt very free of these information dumps. And if it weren’t for the final third of the book then I’d be very much stepping away from this series. As it is, I’ll definitely be giving the sequel a look.
If you’re interested in environmentally themed dystopians (seriously, enviropocalypse is so going to be my new term for this sort of genre), may I suggest Life As We Knew It? I was reminded of it a lot whilst reading the Carbon Diaries and can heartily recommend it as a read – I really loved it.