The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd

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The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Completely gorgeous, if terrifying, diary novel about a future Britain under carbon rationing. It's entirely plausible from both teen girl and climate change perspectives, and it has a wonderful energy giving optimism amidst the doom and gloom.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Hodder
ISBN: 0340970154

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You never think it's gonna happen to you, but all that pollution and dirty fumes and flights and factories and shit we don't need and suddenly there you are, a stupid girl sitting alone on some steps, waiting to see if your family is ever coming back."

It's 2015 and Britain has just become the first nation to introduce carbon rationing. Climate change is running amok, freak weather is everywhere and the Great Storm was the last straw. So everyone gets their ration cards and smart meters, and everyone has to decide what stays and what goes in their carbon-heavy lifestyles. Flights are out, obviously, but what about the car? The favourite Australian wine? The visits to the gym? The computer time? How hot do you like your shower?

These are the questions Laura Brown is asking herself. But as a London teenager with a nu-punk band, dirty angels, to think about, they're the boring questions. When will dirty angels get their first gig? Will gorgeous Ravi next door ever realise she exists? Is Kim really the sister from hell? Does anyone understand Crit Thinking homework? Will Mum and Dad split up? The list goes on.

In this sharp but accessible satire, Saci Lloyd finds a real niche. It's smart and sassy, as all the best teen diary novels are and it reveals Laura in all her adolescent glory - cross, bright, enthusiastic, insecure, selfish. But it's also dark and dangerous. The picture of Britain as climate change really begins to take hold and carbon rationing comes is not something anyone is going to like much at all. Both strands of the book are entirely plausible and one makes the other of interest.

Suddenly, it all looks too real. While teenagers might understand they need to drive fewer miles and turn the heating down a notch or two to combat global warming, Carbon Diaries brings home exactly how much more it will mean. Imported food costs points. Charging a mobile costs points. A bus journey costs points. It's all pause for thought, but seen through the eyes of a girl who wants to snog the boy next door and make it big with her band, it doesn't sound like a lecture. There are as many laughs as horrors in this book, and it strikes a very fine balance with poise and ease.

The tone is chatty and idiomatic. Great for the target audience, but I'll confess to a little irritation at through becoming thru and numbers as numerals. But I'm old, and don't count. It's a very, very, very clever book, managing to sound warning bells whilst being one of the most entertaining teen books I've read in a while. Highly recommended.

My thanks to the nice people at Hodder for sending the book.

A different, but equally disturbing view of a future Britain is presented in both The Declaration by Gemma Malley and The Witness by James Jauncey both equally recommended by Bookbag.

Booklists.jpg The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd is in the Costa Book Awards 2008.

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John Lloyd said:

Pacey, lively story. Whilst not exactly a teenager I do remember the austerity wartime years with trepidation. Younger readers read and worry. This could happen. I'm amazed that the human mind can concieve and write such clever plots. John.

Jill replied:

Absolutely agreed!