Book Reviews - Extinction Rebellion UK

Book Reviews

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Animalkind by Ingrid Newkirk and Gene Stone

Published by Simon and Schuster

Animals have never had it so good. In Animalkind, Ingrid Newkirk (founder of PETA) and Gene Stone (How Not to Die) are keen to emphasise this. The 20th century saw rapid escalation of the animal rights movement and the changes in recent decades have been vast, partly due to the research constantly revealing the unique complexity and intelligence of different species. In Animalkind the authors present these findings to us, depicting highly sophisticated, organised societies, full of distinct, characterful individuals, many with loves and fears much like our own.

Despite shocking accounts of the cruelty billions of animals face daily, the tone of Animalkind remains largely optimistic, and the second half of the book acts as a practical guide to the innovative new ways we can avoid harming animals. Despite a few overoptimistic (VR safaris), overenthusiastic (vegan eggs) suggestions, it’s hard not to be swept up and inspired by the kinder, exploitation-free world that the authors lay before us. Animalkind asks us to honour both the similarities and the differences between humans and other animals. Learning of the high ‘divorce rate’ amongst swans, and pigs that enjoy computer games, helps us to feel closer to our co-inhabitants, but equally important is that we respect our very different evolutionary paths.

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Published by Chatto and Windus

In Deepa Anappara’s exhilarating, vivid, and moving debut novel, danger and uncertainty reign. Life is precarious for our young narrator, Jai, and his schoolmates Pari and Faiz, as they navigate life in a poor community on the outskirts of an unnamed Indian city.

Colour is everywhere in these scenes, but it’s seen through a thick smog that enshrouds the city and all its goings-on. At times the atmosphere is otherworldly, and the strong presence of myth – ancient and urban – means the occasional, sudden, scares are sometimes supernatural in feel. As the novel progresses, the comfort and hope of the initial mystery give way
to the reality of the struggles the children and their families face. Anappara, who worked as a journalist documenting the lives of India’s poor children, has done a remarkable job of telling their stories, while delivering a bold, skilful mystery novel.

Pine by Francine Toon

Published by Doubleday

Pine revolves around Lauren, a ten-year-old girl living in the Scottish Highlands with her father, Niall. Small town rumour, school bullying and her disorderly, drunk father cast shadows over her life, as does the absence of her mother, who mysteriously disappeared when Lauren was just a baby. Toon creates atmosphere brilliantly, one that is true to its highland setting, and thick with supernatural menace. She also does a fine job of depicting life in a small, isolated community, and this is often captivating.

Losing Eden by Lucy Jones

As we face ecological crisis, humans have arguably never been more disconnected from the natural world. In Losing Eden, Lucy Jones makes an impassioned and articulate case for why we desperately need to reconnect,
for our personal wellbeing and for that of the planet. Drawing from a growing body of scientific evidence, Losing Eden is a fascinating guide to the deep bonds that exist between our psychological health and the natural world.

Those with tree-view rooms in hospitals recover more quickly than those without. Antidepressant prescriptions are lower in areas with lots of trees and greenery. By destroying nature we are destroying ourselves, and by removing it from our children’s lives (three quarters of children in the UK spend less time outdoors than prison inmates) we are discouraging the next generation from protecting it. Jones makes this case with journalistic eloquence. Losing Eden is sad and scary, but not without hope.

Bad Island by Stanley Donwood

Published by Hamish Hamilton

Stanley Donwood has been working with Radiohead since the beginnings of the band, his artwork providing them with the strong visual aesthetic that has always felt integral to their music. In his new graphic novel, Bad Island, Donwood tells the story of an Earth-like environment, from primeval times to the present day. Turning the first pages, moving through towering waves and dark clouds, we approach the island. It’s rich with nature and occupied by large, peculiar beasts. As natural disasters cause devastation, and life rebuilds itself, these mysterious animals begin to take hold of the story. They exploit the land and the other animals to create their civilization, and soon we find ourselves in an environment that feels very familiar, full of chaos and destruction. Told without words in stark, beautiful, monochrome, Bad Island is a chilling and immersive history of mankind. It’s a bleak vision, and all we can hope is that the next chapter of this story is very different.


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