Book Reviews

Review: Trashlands by Alison Stine

As a fan of Road Out of Winter, when the publisher asked if I wanted to read Stine’s latest, it was an easy yes. While this one is also a futuristic SF world, Trashlands dives deeply into character dynamics. Into our search for home and connection. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


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?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Trashlands is atmospheric and detailed, transporting you to a world of scarcity. It’s like nothing I’ve ever read. Trashlands details a world so unlike the one I’m familiar with, and yet in some ways so similar. How there has been waves of immense change, of reaping our mistakes, but even then there’s this desire to create, to form families, and to find hope. For me, I was enjoying the world building and slow character development, and then all of a sudden I could not put Trashlands down.

I think it was the moment that the action exploded like a firework. When all these pieces Stine established, suddenly bloomed and began connecting. The moment these fragments of life, hints to the shrouded past, became clear. And then I couldn’t put Trashlands down until I was finished. At the same time, Trashlands balances a bleak portrayal of the future with one of movement and hope. There’s a very real sense of frustration, of desperation, but at the same time there’s glimpses of love, of new connections, and dreams.

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Because the world of Trashlands has completely changed how they think of dreams and futures. Of family units, of schools, and language. If you’re looking for a SF story about the future and being overrun with the trash of our consumerism, then Trashlands is it. There’s a careful balance between hope, realism, pain, and beauty. Find Trashlands on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite post-apocalyptic SF?

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