When the catastrophic Fly Flu leaves the world in shambles, few survivors remain. Among the remaining, is eighteen-year-old Nico and her father in an old farmhouse in rural Northern New Hampshire. As Nico’s father’s mental state declines, he sends her and her dog Harry on a journey through the woods to Manchester to find and open a mythical portal. Nearby the farmhouse is someone known only as “the Deliverer” who has lived Life after Life in pursuit of changing the course of events that led to now. In another town, twelve-year-old Kit is raised in an abandoned cinema, having only known the world after the flies. As Nico sets out on her journey, the lives of the three intersect in unexpected ways.
The Electric Kingdom is told in the third person from three unique perspectives: Nico, a teenager traveling alone in the woods with her dog Harry, Kit, a twelve-year-old who has only ever known a time after the flies, and the elusive Deliverer. It imagines a rural post-apocalyptic New Hampshire as a stark and dangerous place. The few remaining are constantly tested by the elements, risk of starvation and dehydration, and large swarms of Flu Flies, carnivorous insects that consume all flesh they come across. But by the same merit, it highlights the intrinsic beauty of a quiet world where simple pleasures like a good book or a comforting meal are all one needs.
Originally I wanted to read The Electric Kingdom because it was compared to Station Eleven, a favorite of mine. While this is an accurate comparison, I feel like it does not do The Electric Kingdom justice. The Electric Kingdom is a character-driven novel that celebrates the human need for interpersonal relationships and the struggle to survive in a broken world. It has just the right amount of science fiction, carefully mixed with atmospheric winter scenery. At first, I found the science fiction/fantasy elements a bit frustrating and bizarre. But after a bit, they seamlessly integrate into the narrative until they delicately wrap the story in a neat bow. I will be haunted by the ending of The Electric Kingdom long after finishing the book.
I highly recommend The Electric Kingdom for fans of realistic science fiction, especially apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction.
Thank you to BookishFirst and Penguin Teen for the review copy! All opinions are my own.