BLOG TOUR - Trashlands
Harlequin - MIRA have kindly invited me to take part in their blog tour for Trashlands by Alison Stine which is out TODAY (26th October 2021). I will start by telling you all about the book and the author and then I will dive in with my review!
A resonant, visionary novel about the power of art and the sacrifices we are willing to make for the ones we love
A few generations from now, the coastlines of the continent have been redrawn by floods and tides. Global powers have agreed to not produce any new plastics, and what is left has become valuable: garbage is currency.
In the region-wide junkyard that Appalachia has become, Coral is a “plucker,” pulling plastic from the rivers and woods. She’s stuck in Trashlands, a dump named for the strip club at its edge, where the local women dance for an endless loop of strangers and the club's violent owner rules as unofficial mayor.
Amid the polluted landscape, Coral works desperately to save up enough to rescue her child from the recycling factories, where he is forced to work. In her stolen free hours, she does something that seems impossible in this place: Coral makes art.
When a reporter from a struggling city on the coast arrives in Trashlands, Coral is presented with an opportunity to change her life. But is it possible to choose a future for herself?
Told in shifting perspectives, Trashlands is a beautifully drawn and wildly imaginative tale of a parent's journey, a story of community and humanity in a changed world.
Alison Stine is an award-winning poet and author. Recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and an Ohio Arts Council grant, she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and received the Studs Terkel Award for Media and Journalism. She works as a freelance reporter with The New York Times, writes for The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, 100 Days in Appalachia, ELLE, The Kenyon Review, and others, and has been a storyteller on The Moth. After living in Appalachian Ohio for many years, she now lives and writes in Colorado with her partner, her son, and a small orange cat.
I enjoyed reading Alison Stine’s debut ‘Road out of Winter’ and I was excited to see how her latest book, also a dystopian fiction would match up to my high expectations. In some ways Trashlands is very similar in feel, but it has some key differences and this one certainly feels a lot more polished.
Road out of Winter didn’t focus as much on the causes of the disaster that changed the world (a perpetual Winter that never ceased), however Trashlands gives a lot more backstory on the events. There’s been rising sea levels, floods and pollution and the world’s powers have agreed not to make any more plastic – meaning garbage is now currency. The scale of the disaster in a global, or even across state lines way is not explored fully – we only learn of events through character backstory but these small insights make for an interesting read. The story also has a moral of how much plastic we consume and throw away and I certainly felt guilty about my water bottle as I was reading it!
Alison Stine really shines at making believable, interesting and gritty characters and this really comes through in Trashlands. We meet Coral - a young mother who uses precious plastic to make art after her child was taken away, her partner Trillium - a tattoo artist, Mr Fall - an older teacher trying to keep the memories of the old society alive and Foxglove – a stripper who allows men to permanently ink their names on her body. The setting is Trashlands: a junkyard converted to a strip club owned by the shadowy Rattlesnake Master who owns everyone and everything inside. We learn a lot about the characters through conversations and backstory and this continues all the way through the book meaning you still have more experiences to learn about to explain why people act a certain way. There were some inconsistencies in this though – although I understand that Coral wanted to make art, sacrificing large plastic pieces that could have been worth a lot of money (money that she is saving to help her find her son) seemed very out of place. I didn’t really understand why she didn’t use nature or another medium instead of something so precious.
There’s a fair amount of tension and drama in the book but not too much action happens. I was quite disappointed that the ending leaves a key event hanging in the balance with no resolution but it has kept me thinking about the story for a while after I read it! This is also how Road out of Winter ended – not quite a ‘happy ever after’ conclusion but something which could be taken either way.
Overall, Trashlands is a character driven dystopian story with a point to make about how we are harming the world around us. Thank you to NetGalley & Harlequin – MIRA for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
LINKS TO BUY