The Ship by Antonia Honeywell
Published by W&N
19th February 2015
WELCOME TO LONDON
BUT NOT AS YOU KNOW IT
Oxford Street burned for three weeks. The British Museum is occupied by ragtag survivors. The Regent's Park camps have been bombed. The Nazareth Act has come into force. If you can't produce your identity card, you don't exist.
Lalla, sixteen, has grown up sheltered from the new reality by her visionary father, Michael Paul. But now the chaos has reached their doorstep. Michael has promised to save them. His escape route is a ship big enough to save five hundred people. But only the worthy will be chosen.
Once on board, as day follows identical day, Lalla's unease grows. Where are they going? What does her father really want?
WHAT IS THE PRICE OF SALVATION?
This is the first book that I've read as part of a new book group that I'm in, being run by the publishers at Curtis Brown. They advertised it on twitter last year so I thought I'd fill out the form and see what happened, and lo and behold, I was chosen! The Ship was our initial read and then we got to take part in an online discussion with the others from the group, plus the author herself which was lots of fun.
The Ship is a dystopian novel that some say is billed for the YA market, and others not, but as the author herself had no definitive answer to that question, lets just say it's available out there for anyone who wants to read it. Now I'm not a sci-fi fan, and on the basis of the blurb, I would not have chosen to read this book. However, I'm a sucker for a nice cover and based on that, I would actually have picked it up, which I think others in the group have said too.
The plot is as such, we are in London, sometime in the future. Without an identity card you are no one. You cannot live, you cannot eat, you cannot survive. Those who are now identityless are camped out in numerous locations throughout the city, the British Museum being one of these shelters. Lalla lives with her parents Michael and Anna in the confines of their house. They visit the museum often, but are always aware of what doubt there is to their future and the world that they live in. Michael though has a plan, one that he discusses in quiet whispers with his wife when he thinks Lalla isn't listening - something about a ship.
One even a terrible thing occurs and the family leave their home to board the vessel that Michael has been planning for years. On board are almost 500 other people, specifically chosen by Michael to be saved. As the ship sets sail, what wonders will this new life provide for those on board, or will they regret leaving London behind?
I don't want to give too much away here, but I will say that once on board the ship (I keep wanting to call it a boat) I felt very claustrophobic - I don't think cruising is going to be for me, especially after this, but The Ship is a very easy read, and it's not too sci-fi that I didn't enjoy it. In fact, it was very readable and provided us with lots of things to discuss, so I'd definitely recommend it for other book groups to add to their list.
Miss Chapter x