The Wall book cover

In the near future, the ice caps have melted and the sea level has risen making much of the world uninhabitable. The inhabitants of an island nation have built a large, concrete wall around the perimeter of the island to keep out unwanted immigrants, aka environmental refugees. Every citizen takes a turn in their life standing atop the wall as a defender, guarding the island all day, or all night, with very little in the way of comforts. If a defender fails to keep a refugee out, the defender will be set out to sea. I thought sitting on the cold wall, watching the sea for “invaders” was going to be the whole story, sort of a post-apocalyptic waiting for Godot, but the book eventually turns into a suspenseful survivalist quasi-thriller. Still, I thought the bread and butter of the story was the time the main character lived on the wall as a defender. Lanchester writes the desolation and loneliness of sitting on a cold hunk of concrete very well.

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