A forecast odyssey
Extreme weather is just one obstacle to getting home.
In an all too believably imminent world – beset by climate change and overrun by refugees – who is safe? Mhairi is a survivor. She’s managed the long journey from Equator Central (Khartoum) to Equator North (London) armed only with a gun but no bullets, her identity papers and a grubby cloth to hold food scraps. She’s survived disease and detention, assassins, heat and cold.
Almost at the border with Scotland, Nicky Singer’s canny lass is making her way home to Arran, after being stranded with her aid-worker parents in Africa. She is within a burn’s reach of safety – except now, she has a companion, a child who is both mute and dark-skinned. Her biggest survival challenge yet? She must pass the child off as her kin.
Constantly guided by her Papa’s words of wisdom – “Who knows what’s useful nowadays?”, he once warned her mother – Mhairi’s world is described in bleakly beautiful prose. Storms are one of the penalties the north (and south) pays for the increase in global temperatures, an uprooted tree is like a giant mushroom, a tepid shower is a cloak of water and home is walking somewhere where you don’t need a map – “Where the landscape is laid in your heart.”
In spite of the pervading theme of survival, the title only really becomes pertinent in the last chapters, when a chilling twist pulls all the threads into alignment.
In the end, as Papa said, “You have to believe in the goodness of people.”
THE SURVIVAL GAME, by Nicky Singer (Hachette, $20)