The Book of Air takes a post-apocalyptic world, mixes it with Jane Eyre, and gives it a new twist. I am so pleased to be participating in the blog book tour. It’s my first ever book blog tour and it is a really unique experience. I really enjoyed the book and I hope my review convinces you to pick it up!
The Book of Air is about: “Retreating from an airborne virus with a uniquely unsettling symptom, property developer Jason escapes London for his country estate, where he is forced to negotiate a new way of living with an assortment of fellow survivors. Far in the future, an isolated community of descendants continue to farm this same estate. Among their most treasured possessions are a few books, including a copy of Jane Eyre, from which they have constructed their hierarchies, rituals and beliefs. When 15-year-old Agnes begins to record the events of her life, she has no idea what consequences will follow. Locked away for her transgressions, she escapes to the urban ruins and a kind of freedom, but must decide where her future lies.”
What I found most fascinating was the composition of the novel. The way that the people in the future interpret Jane Eyre, as the Book of Air, and the entire society around it is intriguing. Additionally the story of the virus is fascinating in its history, its creation of the world Agnes will eventually live in. Both of these guiding principles make for a fascinating story and two dialogues which speak to each other across the decades. I want to talk a bit about each perspective: Jason and Agnes and what I liked about each.
Jason’s perspective about how the virus began and his own back story is like a mystery tale. As we read on we are given more clues and memories of his past. Going forward, we ask ourselves what has elapsed between his time period and Agnes’. While both tales have a distinct mystery flavor to them, I feel that it is more pronounced for Jason. Well characterized, Jason gives us many answers to Agnes’ own story.
What is fascinating in Agnes’ story is the way their society is divided, between those who follow the Book of Air, and the Scroungers. Many themes of Jason’s story, societies that are manipulated by its leaders and take one text as rule, play out within Agnes’ world. As a character, she is intriguing because for her, it’s a journey of discovery. Agnes works at uncovering the world, it’s not so much about her survival, but about finding the purpose of life. Even then, it feels a little like a thriller, in that are secrets swirling around that have larger implications for society.
And what brings it together is the way the dialogues speak to each other, mirroring each other and bringing new depth to each. Each of the side characters have nuances which shed light on the story. It is difficult to even decide if I like Jason or Agnes more. It would be wrong to spoil you, so I won’t, but I am itching to talk about all the parallels between the stories, all the mirrors, and foil characters. This would be a fabulous book for a book group!
The Book of Air is written wonderfully, composed like a musical composition. There are even questions I have now, such as why Jane Eyre? How do you create a virus? The story makes you truly appreciate the art of writing, of storytelling, and I look forward to reading it again to see its full depths. It is a story about learning: to survive, to move on, and to make peace. But even more, it is a story that never underscores the importance of individual thought, knowledge, and strength of character.
Joe Treasure currently lives in South West London with his wife Leni Wildflower. As an English teacher in Wales, he ran an innovative drama programme, before following Leni across the pond to Los Angeles, an experience that inspired his critically acclaimed debut novel The Male Gaze (published by Picador). His second novel Besotted (also published by Picador) also met with rave reviews.
Website – http://www.joetreasure.com/
Twitter: – https://twitter.com/joetreas
I encourage you to stop by the other blogs on the Book Blog Tour!
Let’s Discuss: If you had to build a society around one book, which would you choose?
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