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This Fragile Earth cover art

This Fragile Earth

By: Susannah Wise
Narrated by: Susannah Wise
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Summary

What would you do to protect your family if the world stopped working?

Not long from now, in a recognisable yet changed London, Signy and Matthew lead a dull, difficult life. They've only really stayed together for the sake of their six-year-old son, Jed. But they're surviving, just about. Until the day the technology that runs their world stops working. Unable to use their phones, pay for anything, even open the smart door to their flat, Matthew assumes that this is just a momentary glitch in the computers that now run the world.

But then the electricity and gas are cut off. Even the water stops running. And the pollination drones—vital to the world, ever since the bees all died—are behaving oddly. People are going missing. Soldiers are on the streets. London is no longer safe.

A shocking incident sends Signy and Jed on the run, desperate to flee London and escape to the small village where Signy grew up. Determined to protect her son, Signy will do almost anything to survive as the world falls apart around them. But she has no idea what is waiting for them outside the city....

©2021 Susannah Wise (P)2021 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"I absolutely devoured this book. It has everything I love - great characters, intrigue, action, heart, drama and hope. Cannot recommend it enough." (Aisling Bea)

"Poignant and perfect." (Christina Dalcher, author of Vox)

"[An] amazing futuristic novel.... Do yourself a favour and a pick up a copy now. It's fantastic." (Paul Bettany)

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What listeners say about This Fragile Earth

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

Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

This started promisingly with a credibly slow and subtle breakdown of social order in a slightly futuristic but recognisable version of London. What WOULD happen if all the smart devices we depend on started to malfunction? It's a premise that had me seriously thinking about how vulnerable urban living makes us. The characters - naive, trusting and helpless - are sympathetically drawn too, easy to empathise with. The author reads her own work - usually a bad idea - but Susannah Wise does it very well. The second half of the novel becomes a road trip and I also found that engaged me. In fact, I enjoyed most of the book until the ending which - without giving too much away - uses Deus Ex Machina in a very literal sense that was unsatisfying after the grittiness of the storytelling before it. The clue is in the title, I suppose, this all is about Gaia- a slightly fairy tale version, that smacked a little too much of wishful thinking for my taste.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Predictable at Best

Very rarely do I write a review, particularly a bad one. But.....

Predictable storey arc, over done deus ex machina concept, unbelievable characters (most irritating protagonist since Salingers' Holden) and dreary dialog. 11hrs and 28 mins waiting for a twist, that never came.

There is however some little engagement maintained throughout, but without 'spoiling' the plot, this is only through the constantly idiotic decision making of the characters.

I must say, I may have missed something, as this reads like a parable. But past the obvious deus ex machina/environmental/'humanity is bad' backdrop, its was pretty lacklustre.

The performance however was pretty good and made up for the lack of content.

Pretty disappointing overall.
But hey, your mileage may vary.

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1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Overall ok

Such a shame the main character was so thoroughly unlikeable!
Her son was used to push plot and fill gaps which did not always fit his age

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Odd and strange and very very good.

We are perhaps all rather familiar with the 'eco-disaster' narrative and its place in near-apocalyptic fiction but sometimes a writer just manages to do something much more interesting with the idea than the usual 'Oops - all those floods and forest fires must be telling us something' background story line. And that is what we have here - a looming something or other and all kinds of weird things happening as everyday life in the near future approaches some kind of critical moment. But the story is also about a woman and her reactions - a wonderfully drawn character who manages to bring together all of the hopes, capabilities, intelligence and versatility of a real person mixed in with all of the uncertainties and frailties which are always there lurking not very far below the surface. "Oh bugger - I've gone and done the wrong thing" could easily be words coming from her on a number of occasions. Great stuff - and a simple round of applause to the author/reader who makes the character seem so real.

Of course I have to admit that the musical harmony - counterpoint theorising along with the rather 'stunted' portraits of male characters could be seen as weaknesses but somehow this simply seems to be me trying to find fault. OK - the lads don't seem to get a very good spot in the chorus line and the 'science' flies far too far over my head but I wouldn't want to stretch either of these points. My only criticism of the book really - is that it ended too quickly. OK - 'Leave them wanting more' has its place I suppose.

An excellent read/listen and a truly enjoyable experience. I do hope that the author continues to look at things from her uniquely individual perspective - always steering herself away from 'accepted' or even 'orthodox' narratives. This book offered something truly original and was delivered with great energy and commitment.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Futuristic thriller

I enjoyed this book and found the story gripping. In some ways the characters didn't always act as I would have expected but then again as they are being thrust into a situation akin to the end of the world I guess we can expect some irrational behavior! Overall I found it an interesting concept and I was totally absorbed, wanting to know how it would all resolve. The narration was excellent, I would thoroughly recommend.

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

Great story spoilt by narration

Overall this is a gripping tale however the child is so badly narrated that I found it irritating. The character of the child just seemed badly drawn to me. I had no empathy at all with him.
The other characters were not very engaging and the tragedy that happens early on doesn’t really seem to have any affect on the mother at all.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • 13-08-23

Has potential but drags

The description sounded interesting so I gave it a go. The narrator is good but boy it drags, just wanting something interesting to happen, given up half way through.

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

Gripping and thought-provoking apocalyptic story

I loved this and stayed up late to finish it.

It is fast-paced and totally gripping and it has stayed in my thoughts since.

We are in London in the near future as things start to fall apart. This future London is entirely believable and so is the main character, Signy. She has flaws but we come to realise that she will do anything to protect her son as she fights to get out of the city to a place of safety. All the details of their gruelling travels and their search for food and shelter are vivid and convincing. I could picture it all. The relationship and power struggle between the mother and her boy ring very true, giving a human heart to this intelligent sciience-fiction.

The ending is intriguing and I am going to listen to the story again and think about it some more.

It's read beautifully by Susannah Wise. Highly recommended!

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

Taught and compelling dystopian tale.

Really enjoyed this debut novel.
The story (a parable really) is relatable and exciting. And unlike anything else I’ve heard.
And very much helped by a great narration - controlled and engaging. And a pleasure to listen too. Can wait for the next novel.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

good book

story line of the book is good. first half is superb.

towards the end I was hoping the child world be killed off as he's so annoying

overall solid book would reccomend.

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