Never Really Goes Anywhere
2.75 out of 5 stars
Narration: 5 out of 5 stars
My biggest two problems with this book were that nothing really happens in it and that I didn’t hate it. I feel like I should have hated it but I didn’t. I guess it’s not a bad thing but not much of anything happens.
An “us versus them” type of story – The City Where We Once Lived is set in the near future in a city that is never named. The narrator (he’s never named) tells us the story of the people of the North End. He lives here since he lost his entire family to a fire years ago in the South End. No one came to save them and they all died. Everyone but him. He’s a writer for the North Ends paper and tells the stories of the people, places, and things inside the North End.
The story tries to keep this open so that you don’t really know the narrator at all along with where he lives other than a hotel in the North End of some city in the near future. They definitely live near water since there is a lot of mention of the levees and flooding. Numerous times I thought it was a place like London but it’s never mentioned.
The people of the North End are self-policing and care deeply about their privacy along with being left alone. It is said that there is no real crime to speak of in the North End – and it’s kind of amazing. The stories keep telling the back and forth of the difference of the North vs the South without really ever telling us how it was in the South. Numerous times I thought that the narrator would tell us “the girl’s” story or about how the gangs and bratty teenagers started but he never did.
Every time I thought the book would pick up (the girl shows up, the cops show up, the fire, the flood, etc) I thought oh good, we’re going to dive into this. But, much like the narrator (the character not Lawlor) we just kind of pushed through. Not showing any emotion or… really any care.
I’m a little upset because I wanted to like this. It tells of a world post-issues that we’re causing today. It’s definitely not your typical post-apocalyptic world where it’s something tragic and quick that causes the issue. It’s a real-world slow burn problem. It tells of issues that we could prevent but are choosing not to. It tells of an unnamed city trying to survive. But it just never went anywhere.
All this mention of the narrator as a character – I thought that the book’s narrator Patrick Lawlor did a nice job with this. The character that he had to portray was kind of dull and kept everything close to him and Lawlor did a great job to voice him that way instead of making him sound outgoing and uppity.
In a near future where climate change has severely affected weather and agriculture, the North End of an unnamed city has long been abandoned in favor of the neighboring South End. Aside from the scavengers steadily stripping the empty city to its bones, only a few thousand people remain, content to live quietly among the crumbling metropolis. Many, like the narrator, are there to try to escape the demons of their past. He spends his time observing and recording the decay around him, attempting to bury memories of what he has lost.
But it eventually becomes clear that things are unraveling elsewhere as well, as strangers, violent and desperate alike, begin to appear in the North End, spreading word of social and political deterioration in the South End and beyond. Faced with a growing disruption to his isolated life, the narrator discovers within himself a surprising need to resist losing the home he has created in this empty place. He and the rest of the citizens of the North End must choose whether to face outsiders as invaders or welcome them as neighbors.
The City Where We Once Lived is a haunting novel of the near future that combines a prescient look at how climate change and industrial flight will shape our world with a deeply personal story of one man running from his past. With glowing prose, Eric Barnes brings into sharp focus questions of how we come to call a place home and what is our capacity for violence when that home becomes threatened.
The City Where We Once Lived by Eric Barnes
Narrator: Patrick Lawlor
Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
Published by Brilliance Audio on March 13th 2018
Genres: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
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I received this book for free. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.