This book was originally chosen for my now defunct sci-fi/fantasy book club. It took me a while to get to it because I just kind of got buried by other books and then my reading slumped a bit with the pregnancy and so on and so forth. This was the last library book I had left to read before my maternity leave and I figured it would be fast because it is so very short. I also thought that it might prove to be atmospheric enough to pull me in and distract me because I liked the idea of reading about hot, humid lagoons and jungles.
It didn’t work.
My reading of this book went in three phases, splitting the book roughly into thirds. First, I was in for it. I was interested in the setting and the people and the ideas. I told Hubby that he would probably love the book. I let the language carry me. Second, I was a little bored. I don’t know why, really. It was like a struggle to read. The language weighed me down. I would get through a page or two and then put it away or fall asleep. Finally, I hit the “I just do not care” point. I didn’t. I almost gave up on it a number of times, even when I was only 20 pages from the end. I had to fight to finish and it took a very long time.
The Drowned World takes place in a time when solar flares have caused the world to warm up, melting the ice caps and causing the water levels to rise. With the rising water, silt deposits have completely changed the map of the world and now most of the globe is covered in dense jungles and lagoons. The only truly inhabitable places are the far north and the far south. A group of military men and scientists are in submerged London but things are beginning to go bad. People are haunted by dreams that seem to drive them slowly insane. When word comes for everyone to move out and back to their base, Dr. Kerans decides to stay behind with Beatrice, the only woman in the area. They have forged comfortable lives there in penthouses with air conditioning and food stores. Kerans’ associate, Dr. Bodkin, stays behind as well, chasing down vague memories of his childhood in the city. Before long, a kind of pirate arrives to loot the city and as he attempts to draw the three from their self imposed isolation, it becomes apparent that he is not to be trusted.
I will agree with many that the setting and the ideas are good and that the language can at times be poetic. That is not enough to carry a book, though, not even a short one. I found the characters to be flat and the plot felt a little too cliche and convenient.