Sequoia Nagamatsu brings our current reality to fiction with his new novel, How High We Go in the Dark. Life on Earth is changed forever after a group of archaeologists in the artic circle re-discover an ancient virus in the mummified remains of a young girl. Nagamatsu’s ensemble of characters find themselves struggling to re-stabilize a crumbing society in the midst of a pandemic of astronomical proportions. Nagamatsu’s work holds a mirror to our current experiences as the characters face no only an deadly virus but global warming, corporate greed, and the degradation of community and interpersonal relationships.
I found How High We Go in the Dark to be almost too close to reality. I don’t typically enjoy novels that parallel this closely with current events, but How High We Go In the Dark is definitely an exception to that rule. Nagamatsu’s reference to crypto currency, global warming, infidelity, addiction , and virtual reality were an interesting addition to his novel. These additions allowed for more tension in the storyline than the virus alone, in addition to making the characters more relatable and multifaceted. These conflicts challenged relationships, pulled characters away from their reality, and allowed for creative and community oriented solutions.
Each chapter in Nagamatsu’s work was from a different character’s perspective. I thought that this was a fantastic choice, but I wish there was a stronger connection between chapters. As a reader I really had to think about how the characters were connected, which took me away from the story. Even so, How High We Go in the Dark, is a fantastic twist on the pandemic novel and is a great read for anyone who is a dystopian fan.
How many winters will I experience? What about my children or grandchildren? Porter Fox travels across the globe in writing “The Last Winter” to learn why winter as we know it today may cease to exist. From raging forest fires across the pacific north, to the French Alps, and glaciers in the Alaska and Greenland, Potter introduces us to numerous experts in the field who live with and study the catastrophic effects of global warming every day.
Global warming is a difficult topi to write about, its especially difficult to predict may affect our future lives. Long term threats like global warming and disease, much like the pandemic we are experiencing right now are very difficult to conceptualize. Potters‘s travels and narrative helps the reader see how global do warming is affecting the planet right now from the perspective of those facing and studying it everyday.
This is a fantastic first start for someone just bringing their learning journey about climate change and global warming. Potter does an exceptional job, describing how global warming and climate change will: affect the availability of drinking water, disrupt growing seasons and subsistence hunters, destroy homes, and (as the title suggests) forever change winter as we know it.
One of my biggest complaints about the book is that it is just a beginners course. Fox does provide additional suggested readings at the back of the book but I would have liked to see a little more data and a little less personal side stories from the author.
In all, the “Last winter” is a great preliminary reading for someone wanting to learn more about climate change. While I loved Fox’s style of narration, I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone expecting a quick read. The Last Winter requires more thought and attention from the reader, but it is definitely worth the extra time. Keep in mind, Fox’s work isn’t a call to action but rather a mirror to show us: what was, what is, and what could be.