I’m a sucker for a good natural disaster or post-apocalyptic story. Cheesy blockbuster disaster movies? Love em'. You know what I’m talking about, the end of the world as we know it. It usually starts with a tumultuous opening event that catches humanity unaware, followed by an hour or two of watching our heroes adapt and survive within a rapidly changing landscape.
I don’t know what is so appealing about this kind of story, but it seems to feed off that surivivalism and prepper culture. Fallout bunkers, tinned food and, in some of the more extreme examples, homemade armour and caesarean section drills. Maybe it is a uniquely mammalian trait; a throwback to prehistoric times when early mammals scurried around and hid from dinosaurs and meteors.
Clade by James Bradley certainly tickled these tastes, not because it was cheesy or over the top. Instead, it was thoughtful and plausible. Starting in a time close to the present we are introduced to Adam, a climatologist who is witnessing changes to the polar icecaps and about to welcome his child into the world.
The rest of the novel spans several decades, following the slow unrelenting progression of climate change from the perspective of Adam’s family. This natural progression gave Clade an authentic feel, not like your typical blockbuster disaster movie at all. If anything it had a pacing and feel more akin to what is found in The Wire.
Punctuated by blockbuster style calamities that progressively get worse throughout the novel, Bradley illustrates his main theme: While you might be able to run from your life, you won’t be to hide from climate change.
I enjoyed how James was able to amplify contemporary issues like population displacement and refugees with the lens of climate change. In many ways the chapter featuring Amir and the security raids was one of the most frightening. This was something that wasn’t supposed to happen till way off in the distant future, but we already seeing similar events occur in America under President Trump’s administration.
I felt the ending of Clade fell a little flat and didn’t carry it’s weight compared with an otherwise excellent story. I give it 3.5 out of 5.
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