The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson
|The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Luci Davin|
|Summary: Eve finds herself in an alternate reality where Britain is always at war in this funny, romantic and charming dystopian chicklit story – an unusual mix of genres.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 384||Date: April 2011|
|Publisher: Choc Lit|
Shortlisted for Contemporary Romantic Novel of the year, 2012
Eve Carpenter is having a very bad day, and it is about to get worse. She comes round from a paragliding accident but everything is rather strange. Although she’s still in London, this is a city and a world she hardly recognises. There is just enough that is familiar to be totally confusing. In this world, England is a backward country with a population kept too busy fighting in a civil war to do much else. She is taken captive by a small group of soldiers who take her marching across the country with them. The leader, Major Harker, is obnoxious and scruffy, and is convinced Eve is a spy, or perhaps she is just mad. While they apparently speak the same language, they struggle to understand each other – their worlds are so different.
The Untied Kingdom is an unusual combination of genres – a dystopian chicklit novel, as much a war and adventure story as a romance (not just a romance with a war setting). I quickly got caught up in the problems facing Eve and Harker and the other soldiers. The strongly drawn characterisation and lively narrative and dialogue is key to this.
Back in her own world, Eve had a career as a pop star but things went badly wrong and she was down on her luck – her paragliding attempt was part of an appearance on a reality TV show for ex-celebrities. She is opinionated and always willing to argue her corner, even when doing so gets her into trouble. She is willing to learn about the world she has found herself in and she comes to care about Harker, especially, and the others around her. She is brave. Reading this made me think that there aren’t enough adventure stories for women, and with strong heroines. Harker is abrasive and rude, but he works hard to look after the bunch he leads. As the story developed, he grew on me just as he did on Eve.
I was impressed by the balance that Kate Johnson keeps between the different aspects of her novel. She maintains the adventure story even as a romance develops. However, it is not just an exciting romantic adventure story with a straightforward happy ending to come. Like many more literary war stories, the novel is quite critical of war, mostly using Eve’s comments as a way of expressing views. The fighting has had a devastating effect on the lives of the soldiers. Eve doesn’t really understand what the soldiers are fighting for, and Harker never really gives her a satisfactory explanation – does he know himself? The story also shows the effects of war in quite a realistic manner, such as real people being hurt and killed in a very unpleasant way.
Something else I found interesting in this novel was the exploration of an alternate world without the technology we have become so reliant on, where electricity and landline telephones are luxuries which only the super rich can afford and only stronger military powers have equipment like computers.
Thank you to Choc Lit for sending a copy of this original and exciting romantic adventure story to the Bookbag.
Choc Lit specialises in publishing intelligent and original chicklit, often by debut authors, and another Bookbag recommendation is Please Don't Stop the Music by Jane Lovering. A classic alternate reality story written for younger readers but by an author with many more mature fans is Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson at Amazon.com.
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