Barbarian - Pippa Bartolotti

In a near future we find Barwin, a survivor of a medical outbreak that resulted from a drastic change in the environment all over the world. The remaining population scavenge for food and shelter wherever they can but many fall under the rule of unsavoury gangs. Barwin lives day to day trying to gather supplies and find suitable shelter for herself and her Gran, but she dreams of more. She dreams of living in a vegetation rich island where the animals are still alive and thriving, where she can live out her days creating new life and a sustainable future.

I was kindly sent this book to review by Pegasus Publishers and it looked like a nice short read to pick up. From the off I struggled with the writing style, we jump a lot between the events of the story which I found hard to follow and there was very little dialogue to give further context to the scenes. Despite this I solidly enjoyed the concept of the story, a dystopian world where we follow a strong female character through her trials to survive. It is a classic story but the changing setting made this book a lot more interesting as it felt like we were going on this journey with our main character.

Trigger warnings are few and far between in most books, but I feel I have to mention that this book is not suitable if you are triggered by rape scenes. With no warning I was shocked at the level of graphic detail we read with Barwin's experience inside Waldenby. This is true of many parts of this story, small details were focused upon so much that it distracted from the main story. Waldenby was inhabited by severely disturbed people and this part of the book made me feel very uneasy, which I anticipate was the point but I couldn't shake that feeling through the rest of the book.

Uncomfortable feelings are (I feel) the main point of this story, a warning for what is to come if we do not change our ways with how we look after the planet. I appreciate this message and try super hard to make sure I'm doing the right thing but this book felt a little 'in your face'. I want a better future for our planet, but the long paragraphs to the effects of global warming took away from the story so I felt I couldn't enjoy it. The message could have come across well if enclosed within the story itself, instead it felt like a very disjointed telling off.

The story was good and solid, it was a strong story however the execution fell short of being amazing for me. Fleshing out the pages a little with more story and less environmental tirade would have gone a long way.

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