A Diary in the Age of Water (Book Review)
by Nina Munteanu
Speculative Fiction / Eco-Fiction, 2020
4 / 5 Stars
“How do you ensure your child’s future when you ignore the future of the entire planet?”
An extremely detailed and downright terrifying look into the future of our planet, A Diary in the Age of Water will appeal to lovers of eco-fiction and hard speculative fiction.
The story follows Kyo, a girl from the far future. She lives on an Earth that has suffered a severe climate disaster. Kyo finds a diary from the past, chronicling the twenty years prior to the disaster and what possibly led to it.
While engrossing, the book reads more as a warning regarding our planet than a novel. Each chapter begins with a glossary-type explanation of a water science or climate-related word, which has relevance in the entry following it. This was both interesting and helpful, especially if you’re someone like me who doesn’t know a lot about this type of science.
This novel made my heart clench. The plausibility of the scenarios surrounding the sale of Canadian fresh water to the United States and China, water restrictions for civilians, increasing global warming environmental disasters, and the loss of endangered species was harrowing to read. As someone who cares deeply for the environment and has taken active steps to reduce her carbon footprint (and signs tons of petitions to prevent the lessening of environmental protections by my government), this book made me even more worried. Hot take: watering your lawn should be banned. It’s a supreme waste of water.
It’s clear Munteanu has a deep understanding of the science behind the novel and I learned a lot while reading it. I made tons of notes!
In terms of a novel though, there isn’t much of a plot or character development. Lynna doesn’t really change as the novel progresses and while the parts with Kyo served to encircle the story, I found they were almost unnecessary. Lynna also isn’t very likeable and there are some repetitions in terms of Lynna’s worries over her daughter. Epistolary novels are also a hard sell for me because I have trouble believing Lynna recalled a conversation with a person from over nine years ago. Yet, the novel is more about how we’re screwing ourselves over in real life than Lynna and Hilde’s personal issues.
That being said, it’s engrossing and fascinating and heart-wrenching. I recommend it to people who love eco-fiction, but also speculative fiction.
I also recommend you check out the podcast Flash Forward. This novel reminded me of it because it takes a future scenario and fleshes out the logistics behind it with research and guests who are experts in their field.