ALBION by John Kay

[ Warning: spoilers]  

Overall impression: Once I started reading the book I was swept along by the story and read it all in a morning. It had me thoroughly hooked. Excellent and well written.

This is a dystopian novel set in 2050 in a world that has been badly affected by a new and fatal disease, the Sickness. This killed a third of the population, and resulted in a totalitarian state in the UK, whose name is now Albion. It would be nice to have been told a bit more about the Sickness itself, namely its symptoms and the effect it had on individuals. It kills both of the main character’s (James) parents, but Chapter 5 doesn’t say much about it.

The first part of the book is basically a love story between James and his childhood sweetheart Tamsin who is raped by members of the state-run Youth Command. James has also to serve his time with that organisation, before he chooses to become a trainee solicitor, but mentally and emotionally he is a rebel. He then falls in love with Jo, who is a left-wing activist and she becomes his partner. She produces a newspaper with anti-government views. (It would have been interesting if a few headlines from this publication could have been included.) The book contains descriptions of the prevailing conditions in London which I found very interesting. The coverage of the love affair, and the society they live in, is just about right. 

I liked chapters 23-25, in which Tamsin re-enters the story but she is now part of the totalitarian state, and the unexpected consequences that follow. 

In the final chapter of the book James appears to have become a suicide bomber who has decided to blow up some key government building. Not knowing whether he will be successful in this, is not spelled out and is a good way to end the book.

Reviewers will undoubtedly compare this book with George Orwell’s 1984 and I think it stands comparison with it, both in plot and style. 

Dr John Emsley


 I found it easy to read and the story had a good speed. It was quite believable bearing in mind that it is post-apocalyptic and not the sort of thing I would normally read.  

Alice Southerby, Cambs