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Publisher's Summary

A Washington Post, NPR, and Buzzfeed Best Book of the Year • Shortlisted for the Booker Prize

“More than timely, the novel feels timeless, solid, like a forgotten classic recently resurfaced — a brutal, beguiling fairy tale about humanity. But at its core, The New Wilderness is really about motherhood, and about the world we make (or unmake) for our children.” (Washington Post)

"5 of 5 stars. Gripping, fierce, terrifying examination of what people are capable of when they want to survive in both the best and worst ways. Loved this." (Roxane Gay via Twitter)

Margaret Atwood meets Miranda July in this wildly imaginative debut novel of a mother's battle to save her daughter in a world ravaged by climate change. A prescient and suspenseful book from the author of the acclaimed story collection, Man V. Nature

Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away, consumed by the smog and pollution of the overdeveloped metropolis that most of the population now calls home. If they stay in the city, Agnes will die. There is only one alternative: the Wilderness State, the last swath of untouched, protected land, where people have always been forbidden. Until now. 

Bea, Agnes, and 18 others volunteer to live in the Wilderness State, guinea pigs in an experiment to see if humans can exist in nature without destroying it. Living as nomadic hunter-gatherers, they slowly and painfully learn to survive in an unpredictable, dangerous land, bickering and battling for power and control as they betray and save one another. But as Agnes embraces the wild freedom of this new existence, Bea realizes that saving her daughter’s life means losing her in a different way. The farther they get from civilization, the more their bond is tested in astonishing and heartbreaking ways. 

At once a blazing lament of our contempt for nature and a deeply humane portrayal of motherhood and what it means to be human, The New Wilderness is an extraordinary novel from a one-of-a-kind literary force.

©2020 Diane Cook (P)2020 HarperAudio

What listeners say about The New Wilderness

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

meh

Something about this story just doesn't ring true. So little backstory to explain the historical context that many aspects of the scenario and plot seem arbitrary, and the characters for the most part just don't seem particularly intelligent. Obviously meant as an allegory along the lines of Jemison, but apart from the generally depressing nature of the basic cli-fi premise, it was hard to understand what lesson to take. Agnes Dei? really?

6 people found this helpful

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It was not very good

There was something missing from this story to make it a story. It seemed like there were great opportunities for an interesting concept to emerge but it never happened. I would recommend The Great Alone instead. It’s also a nature forward book, but with an interesting storyline along with it. The narrator was mostly okay but the long crying scenes were difficult to listen to.

2 people found this helpful

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Mesmerizing story, and superb reading.

I couldn’t tear myself away! The descriptions of the wilderness, the intensely complicated relationships, and incredible reading were magnetic.

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Every minute was worth it

I just finished this and I find myself wanting to wait a few days before reading anything else in order to work through the various complicated characters and dilemmas Cook asks us to think about. I will say that when I started I thought this might be a kind of naive return to a state of nature story. But it quickly became so much more. It is about climate change and the future of society. But it is also about group dynamics and most of all, the complications and contradictions involved in being a parent under the new and anticipated challenges of our present and future. Beautifully written and dynamic in every sense of the word.

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A Triumph

This book will surely stay with me, haunting in its brutal truth. A beautiful accomplishment.

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Wow!

This is a great dystopian work about a future that is not hard to imagine if we continue the way we look at nature. It is a great listen and great reminder of why we should look to leave the world better instead of destroying nature in the name of progress.

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Looking forward to reviewing it at book club

There’s really a lot of interesting conversations that can come from reading this book. The futuristic story is not too far fetched, considering global warming. I liked the clever twist near the end. It was a good book just not one of my favorites.

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  • BB
  • 04-06-21

No real point

I wanted to like this, I really did.

I’m not quite finished with it. I’m now just completing it make sure I don’t miss something poignant.

None of the characters were likable nor endearing. The story feels repetitive without any real meat.

When I think about it, this is story is very close to life for most people, uneventful.

I just wish there was one character I felt anything for. All of their personalities were very dry.

Meh is right.