The New Wilderness caught my eye when it was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize. I watched the online awards ceremony during lockdown and I remember being intrigued by the theme of the book … sounded like a dystopia I would very much enjoy. Sometimes you just gotta’ trust your intuition, don’t you?

Read 2 books from the 2020 Booker shortlist: The New Wilderness and The Shadow King. Loved both!

The New Wilderness in a nutshell

The New Wilderness is a dystopian climate fiction story with an interesting twist. The book tells the story of a group of strangers who, as part of an experiment, are living as nomads in the last wildlife region. In a future where the City is as poisonous as it can be, living in The Wilderness State sounds like the only sweet escape … but is it?

The story is centered around Bea and her daughter Agnes, and explores the daughter-mother relationship on multiple levels. Bea joined the experiment in order to save young Agnes from dying, as her lungs were damaged by the polluted air of the City.

Overall impression

I enjoyed a lot reading The New Wilderness! It was a captivating and sometimes scary story that made me appreciate even more the beautiful nature we still have around. And it also got me quite worried about the future, like a good climate fiction story should do.

With an interesting mix of action-oriented and introspective writing styles, I see The New Wilderness as a good fit for both action-junkies (like I am) and for character-building fans.

I read part of this book while enjoying an amazing view in Milan region, Italy

Living in the wild

My favourite sections of the book were the ones about living in the wild. The people in the Wilderness State had to make do with very few supplies, find alternative ways to cook their food or ensure safety before crossing a river. At the same time, the group had to respect certain rules in order to protect the Wilderness, such as not building houses.

It’s no wonder I enjoyed these wilderness bits, my favourite childhood book was Robinson Crusoe – a story about a man who is shipwrecked on an island and has to survive using only few items he managed to take from the ship.

Climate fiction and parenthood

It was particularly interesting that I read this book right after finishing The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde (my review). Both books are climate fiction dystopia, and both take a close look at single parent – child relationship. This aspect is also illustrated on both book covers, as you can see below.

However, The New Wilderness focuses on mother-daughter relation, while The End of the Ocean focuses on father-daughter relation. I find it fascinating how climate fiction stories such as these two blend so well climate topics with family dynamics!


A page-turner book that I loved reading, The New Wilderness is definitely one of my go-to recommendations when someone asks for climate fiction stories.

Have you read any climate fiction stories? Please let me know what you recommend, I’m looking for new titles of this genre!

If you would like to buy books or other (non)bookish things, please consider using one of these links: Amazon | Waterstones | Carturesti. Thank you!

‘Till next time … happy reading!


7 thoughts on “The New Wilderness by Diane Cook (book review) – surviving in the Earth’s last wildlife area

  1. I read this one recently, too, although my review won’t be up for a while. I had a mixed reaction to it. I liked the sections that centered on Bea a lot better than the ones about Agnes for some reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting! If I think about the sections focused on Bea or Agnes, I also had mixed feelings. I think that was caused more by my personal beliefs and experiences, and the fact that I couldn’t not judge the two of them for how they behaved at times towards each other.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha ha, nice!! Actually I don’t have that many, as I add books on my TBR only if they’re from a trusted source πŸ˜€ I see the TBR as a “reading soon” list, so there are about 15-20 books I really plan to read in the next months.

        For instance, if I want to read Dostoevsky at some point in my life, I do not add his books to my TBR. But the book you recommended – it’s been already added!

        Liked by 1 person

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