DREAMLAND BY ROSA RANKIN-GEE
Publication date: 2021
”You said that you would come back. You looked me in the eye and said that. Well, if you had, this is what you would have seen: soft wood, black cracks, fridges in the road. The broken spines of old rides at Dreamland.’
In the coastal resort of Margate, hotels lie empty and sun-faded ‘For Sale’ signs line the streets. The sea is higher – it’s higher everywhere – and those who can are moving inland. A young girl called Chance, however, is just arriving.
Chance’s family is one of many offered a cash grant to move out of London – and so she, her mother Jas and brother JD relocate to the seaside, just as the country edges towards vertiginous change.
In their new home, they find space and wide skies, a world away from the cramped bedsits they’ve lived in up until now. But challenges swiftly mount. JD’s business partner, Kole, has a violent, charismatic energy that whirlpools around him and threatens to draw in the whole family. And when Chance comes across Franky, a girl her age she has never seen before – well-spoken and wearing sunscreen – something catches in the air between them. Their fates are bound: a connection that is immediate, unshakeable, and, in a time when social divides have never cut sharper, dangerous.
Set in a future unsettlingly close to home, against a backdrop of soaring inequality and creeping political extremism, Rankin-Gee demonstrates, with cinematic pace and deep humanity, the enduring power of love and hope in a world spinning out of control.
This is a clear case of @savidgereads made me do it. I saw him talk about it in a recent YouTube video and bought it straight away for 3 reasons:
- The cover – soz but yes I am that shallow
- Deserted theme park
Set in the not too distant future in a post-pandemic, environmentally screwed up world where the water levels are rising at a frightening rate and the climate has gone crazy, we follow a group of disillusioned, poverty stricken characters trying to survive.
I had high hopes and I am very pleased to say that my expectations were met. Early on in the book, I had the feeling my heart was going to be going broken. And it was, but not quite in the way I expected.
Dreamland didn’t quite deliver as much as I was hoping for in the way of deserted theme parks (totally my own issue there!), but it delivered in so many other ways. The overriding atmosphere is one of unease; it is quite unsettling with an underlying ripple of /overt threat throughout. The characters are realistic in their flaws. Some will make you want to mother them and some will make you feel murderous. The plot moves along at a good pace and the story ends in a satisfying way without tying everything up in a pretty bow.
I highly recommend this stunner of a book about love in its many forms and survival. It does contain violence towards women and drug misuse, so proceed with caution/avoid if those are triggers for you.