Wednesday, 7 June 2017


Title: The Ship
Series: The Ship
Author: Antonia Honeywell
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Dystopian
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: 25th April 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
The Ship is a luminous and genre-defying debut novel that follows a young woman's coming of age in a world where she has no future.

London burned for three weeks. And then it got worse...

Lalla has grown up sheltered from the chaos amid the ruins of civilization. But things are getting more dangerous outside. People are killing each other for husks of bread, and the police are detaining anyone without an identification card. On her sixteenth birthday, Lalla's father decides it's time to use their escape route--a ship he's built that is only big enough to save five hundred people.

But the utopia her father has created isn't everything it appears. There's more food than anyone can eat, but nothing grows; more clothes than anyone can wear, but no way to mend them; and no-one can tell her where they are going.


I actually had this one on my kindle quite a long time as Netgalley had given me an e-arc but I hadn't gotten around to reading it, and then I had seen it on Amazon UK when it had officially been released I also bought and e-copy on 17th September 2016. So some thing was telling me I had to read this one! I'd been having problems with my kindle app on kindle and when I got them sorted out this book popped up on my carousel, so I saw that the latest version was due to be released on 25th April and decided to read it. As most of you will know I love the dystopian and post apocalyptic genres so felt drawn to read it. 

So as there are a few different versions/editions of this book there are also three different covers that I have come across. I have featured them below in a cover compare feature. To some degree I like all the covers. I'm not sure if its the fact it was the cover on the edition I finally read but I really like the one I have featured above. The murky blue waters of misunderstanding and disagreements, the fog depicting mystery around the almost mythical ship that turns out to be very real and perhaps the very last hope for humanity. I feel drawn to this cover, it makes me want to find out more about the ship, partly hidden by the fog and its passengers. As well as if there is a good or bad ending for it's passengers. So I guess you'd have to say that this cover certainly fulfills its purpose to get. The font and style of the title as it seems to be rising out of the murky waters of the vast ocean. The authors name, Antonia Honeywell is placed deeper under the ocean, which when you read the book could very well represent the undercurrent or what is hidden beneath the surface of the "happy ship", but I'll discuss that further on in this review.

The main character featured throughout the book is Lalarge (Lalla for short) is only seven ears old when London goes through an enormous change and ends up being what I'd describe as an apocalyptic London, with Oxford Street burning, and camps for the poorest of society being in Regents Park, which now looks like a city of tents. The British Museum has less and less artifacts to look at and learn about and more poor people taking refuge and squatting in it.  Lalla is relatively lucky in that her father Michael Paul invented a system called Dove which is supposed to prevent any person going without their "rations" be it food or clothes etc. Michael Paul had foreseen this world of chronic shortages and invented an Identity card system, which to begin with seemed fair, but you needed to register for the Dove programme and carry their own card with them at all times. Children under sixteen are allowed to give their card to a parent for safe keeping. If you lose your card you lose your right to be informed where the food drops are so you go hungry. Also you must be available to re-register your card when necessary, again if you don't you go hungry etc. This card really is your lifeline, without you are nothing to the government, you do not exist! Although all items are in short supply, some items are always available for the right price! Fresh food items have disappeared, such as a fresh apple. Lalla the main character this book centers on has never seen an apple. Apples are frequently mentioned in the book to represent something unobtainable, or something impossible to do. For as long as Lalla can remember her father has disappeared for days on end apparently gathering items for a "Ship" and when he is at home he is usually talking to strangers, people Lalla has never seen before in their home. Lalla's mother, Anna seems somewhat skeptical about the need for the "Ship" at all. Things in London get worse everyday, to the point the only time Lalla leaves her home is to go look through the British Museum with her mother. Lalla's mother teaches her about history and about all the artifacts in the different cases. Though even the exhibits in the glass are disappearing, although little cards are put in the empty cases explaining they have been taken for cleaning. Though the exhibits seem to be going down as quickly as the people living in the museum is going up. Anna and Lalla take any food they can spare and distribute it to those in the museum.

It's really quite difficult to say some of the things I want to without revealing too much, so if in places I seem a little vague please forgive me. Eventually, though Anna still protests, the day to go to this almost mythical ship suddenly arrives. 

The Paul family, consisting of Michael, his wife Anna and their now 16 yr old daughter Lalla travel in haste to the ship. Representatives from the government try to stop the ship leaving, and a fracas ensues when Lalla throws her ID card into the mob that want to board the ship. Within the confusion and because Michael has crossed every t and dotted every i where the legislation is concerned, the government representative leaves the ship and it sets off though not without casualties.

Life on board the Ship is in stark contrast to the world the 500 passengers had previously been living. To try to sum up life on board the ship in just one word it would be "plenty". Plenty of food, leisure activities to take part in, clothes to wear,as well as a sense of freedom.
The passengers have all been hand picked by Michael, from Roger the ships Doctor who is so grateful to have an infirmary that is stocked with an abundant supply of drugs, medicines etc. so that he can actually help and treat people.

These people are so grateful to Lalla's father Michael, they all have awful pasts, which he has rescued them from and given them a place on this ship. They are happy to have three meals a day to eat, and the chef has copious supplies to create luxurious feasts. There seems to be a endless amount of leisure activities available to the passengers too, like wool and needles for those who wish to knit or learn to, footballs for those who wish to learn to play, or the bounty of books available on the portable, tablet like devices, Michael has procured for every passenger on board. The people on the ship end up looking up to Michael as a father/leader, it's almost cult like the way they call him Father.

The ship seems to be the ultimate perfect place to be, it's as though Michael has thought of everything, for example an abundance of artificial flowers for celebrations. Clothes to fit each passenger throughout their life on the ship and for every occasion they may be involved in from one extreme to another, such as black clothes for a funeral, or the selection of wedding dresses, and baby items for those on board who may wish to get married and start a family. Yet there still seems to be a shadow hovering over the ship. All those on board have left people behind and worry about those people left in the chaos. Those people living in the museum or in a tent outdoors without the relative safety of an ID card, not knowing where their next meal is coming from, or if they are even going to get one. It's whilst watching the news bulletin one evening that everyone is quite cruelly reminded of what is still going on in London that it is decided that the past should be left behind now and everyone should live in the present only. This all seems relatively feasible, naturally some find this an easier to achieve and live by than others.

Somewhat disturbing for Michael is the one individual who is finding leaving the past behind is his own daughter Lalla! Lalla is not only seemingly incapable to leave the past behind her, she is also asking lots of awkward questions about the future and exactly where the ship is going.

So there's lots and lots going on in this book, I found it both interesting and thought provoking. There is a kind of Q & A at the end of the book, where one of the question/tasks is to put yourself in the place of one of the main characters and think about what you would do in their position.

My favourite character is Lalla, she isn't afraid to question those around her, or ask the awkward things that are whirling around her head. Lalla is also not happy to just enjoy the present, she wishes to know What is going to happen in the future? Where the ship is taking them? Will there be enough supplies on the ship for it's present passengers? What happens if the passengers have children, will the Ships resources still be enough?

I don't know what other people will think to Michael and it's tough to explain what I think about him without giving any spoilers, but I'll give it a go. I really didn't like him, he was, in my opinion rather a domineering character with his wife Anna. I know some people will disagree saying that he did initially pander to his wife's whims, but then you will discover he seems to have engineered a lot more of what happened prior to getting on the ship. I also thought in parts of the book he is actually pleased and enjoying the chaos all around him. As he feels vindicated and righteous as he had previously warned the government all this would happen. He is also disappointed that his invention called Dove (the ID system) was not the problem solver he designed it to be. Then when Michael is on the ship he is the one everyone looks to for guidance on how to act and live. When the depression over a new bulletin threatens the happiness on board the ship he declares they should all leave their pasts behind them and live for now. Those on board the ship seem to blindly follow him as if he is some sort of cult leader! Or the leader of a new religion! On one hand he is a genius to have come up with the idea's of firstly Dove then coming up and executing the whole idea and then the reality of the Ship. 

I really enjoyed how the chapters had not only numbers but titles/headers that were sort of hints to what the chapters contained in them. If you are worried these small headers at the beginning of the chapters are spoilers, they aren't, they are merely little teasers of what is to come in that specific chapter. I really ended up loving them as I worked my way through the book. 

I think where the book ends and how it ends will have a "marmite" reaction with readers, in that you will either love it or hate it. Initially I freely admit I hated it and was frantically flicking forward through my kindle hoping for an epilogue or some mention of a novella or even a book two. Then when I thought about the ending, and the more I thought about what I had read, the ending seemed quite fitting. the reaction of some of the main character shows how different they are, and how different their thinking about the present and the future are and the difference in their ideals are. 

My thoughts upon finishing the book were that it is a deeply thought provoking book. The type of book that stays with you quite a while after finishing reading the book.

I've shared within my review which is my favourite and why I think that is the case so now it's over to you, Which is your favourite and why?

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