Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Carbon Diaries 2017

The Carbon Diaries 2017

Saci Lloyd
For ages 14 and up
Holiday House, 2010   ISBN: 978-0823422609

Two years ago, in 2015, London flooded when the Thames barrier gave way. All the areas closest to the Thames River were inundated, and many lives were lost. Now many of the lower lying parts of London are empty, and the city is very different from the London that Laura knew when she was growing up. Despite the periodic flooding, the political protests, and many other inconveniences, Laura has still chosen to come to London to get a university education. Sure, the world is battling the effects of global warming, but that does not mean that she shouldn’t get an education. Laura soon discovers that this is going to be much more complicated than she ever imagined.

Her problems begin when she is evicted from her shared apartment. Suddenly she is out on the streets without her “stuff,” very little money, and almost no carbon credits. She could of course go back home to live with her parents in Oxfordshire, but instead Laura decides to stick it out in London. Not having much in the way of resources, she goes to live in an abandoned building in the docklands. A group of people have build a cooperative of sorts to manage the apartments, and though power is a luxury, Laura makes a home in the place.

Though her housing problem is solved, Laura still isn’t able to concentrate on her studies. The band she plays in, the Dirty Angels, is gaining a foothold in the underground music scene, and there is talk of them going on a tour. Then violent riots break out with students and radicals clashing with each other and with the police on the streets.  Laura finds herself caught up in the middle of all the chaos and violence. She does not want to have anything to do with either side of the conflict, and yet she is sucked into it anyway. Why is it so hard to have a “normal” existence? As her life spirals downwards, Laura tries to come to terms with the fact that “normal” simply does not exist anymore.

In this sequel to The Carbon Diaries 2015, we get to see how dire things could get if we don’t take the threat of global warming seriously. Though some readers may think that the scenarios described in this book seem dark and too extreme, if they think about it for a while they will realize that Saci Lloyd’s portrayal of our possible future is not as outrageous as it might seem.

The author beautifully balances the global warming world with Laura’s own personal world. Just like any other college student, she has worries about the future, she gets into trouble, and she struggles to manage her relationship with her boyfriend. Just like many college students around the world, Laura discovers that life in the real world is a lot more complicated than she first thought. What is encouraging is that Laura does, despite the odds, find her way.