Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd

9780340970157 I was at first attracted to this book by its cover – it looks like it’s been made out of a brown paper bag.  The whole book is actually made from 100% recycled material, which conforms well to the story written on the pages.  Set in the year 2015 (okay, slightly obvious from the title!) The Carbon Diaries is about a future where power scarce and the UK has just begun carbon rationing.  The story is told in diary form by Laura Brown, a teenager living in London in the aftermath of The Great Storm.  Due to excessive carbon emissions, the UK is the first country to issue everyone with a carbon allowance.  Basically you get a card with points on it and every time you do anything power related points are deducted.  Of course, almost everything you do involves power of some kind; watching TV, having a shower, getting to school, playing bass guitar.

And the worst thing is, on top of all this, me and Kim have to give up loads of our points for the family energy allowance, which leaves us some pathetic amount for travel, college, going out… The car’s gonna be cut way back, all of us get access to the PC, TV, HD, stereo for only 2 hours a day, heating is down to 16 degrees in the living room and 1 hour a day for the rest of the house, showers max 5 minutes, baths only at weekend.  We’ve got to choose – hairdryer, toaster, microwave, smartphone, de-ioniser (Mum), kettle, lights, PDA, e-pod, fridge or freezer and on and on.  Flights are a real no-no and shopping, travelling and going out not much better.  It’s all kind of a choice.

The story charts the family’s spiral into despair as power cuts begin, Laura’s dad loses his job (he’s a lecturer in Travel and Tourism and no-one can go anywhere anymore), her sister starts black market racketeering in carbon points, her mum grows increasingly depressed at her dad’s drinking and Laura becomes obsessed with the gorgeous but unavailable boy next door. All this may make the story sound bleak and depressing but the chatty voice of Laura narrating these happenings through the eyes of a love-struck teenager lift this book into a class all of its own.  I loved the combination of the very serious and downright horrifying nature of the subject matter (it all sounds a bit too real to me!) told by a sarcastic, witty teen.

So much for family togetherness.  March is going to be the month of a thousand nights.  Day 1 and I’m already going crazy.  Every one of us is sitting in the dark in our own separate freezing rooms. Our ancestors couldn’t have had it this bad – at least they had candles and corsets and cards and lutes and shit.  Oh yeah, and servants too.

The hydro gig’s coming up next week. There’s nothing going to stop me going, even if I have to walk there. I had to get off the bus today cos I didn’t have enough credit to get me all the way to college.  I am a carbon leper.

Laura is everything teenagers today can identify with – she wants the boy, she wants to be in a band, she gets upset when her mobile runs out of charge but she has so much more to contend with.  It is difficult to imagine a world where we can’t just plug stuff in or drive wherever we want or boil the kettle for a cup of tea, but The Carbon Diaries brings this situation into such sharp focus that it’s very frightening.  And yet the chatty style, the humour and the ‘normality’ that the diarised format brings to the piece, although lifting the immediate angst, for me made it all the more real.  This isn’t some dry report by a scientist full of technical jargon and mind-numbing complications, this is real people and real lives.

There’s just so much to love about this book; the amazingly resourceful Laura, who is still trying to lead a normal life, the scarily close to home nature of the imagined future and signs of human nature that are brought to the fore in times of trouble.  I would highly recommend everyone to read it.

About Eve Harvey

Eve Harvey is a bookaholic. She is forever to be found with her nose in a book. If there are none around then newspapers, magazines, the back of cereal packets, road signs or the tiny washing labels found on the seams of jumpers will do. Eve has a full time job as a children's bookseller. She was, in fact, the very first Waterstone's Children's Expert Bookseller in Scotland. Her first love then really has to be literature for children and teens, although she has been known to read grown-up books (not very often though - they didn't put in enough hours when they invented days). She especially loves to find brand new authors and is always on the lookout for a stunning début... Eve lives in a field just outside Edinburgh in Scotland with her daughter and son and two dogs and two rabbits. She also has some tanks of tropical fish and vows one day to start up a marine aquarium. And the day she signs her very first publishing deal she is going to celebrate by buying a pair of Horsefields tortoises. You can find Eve through her Agent, Ella Kahn at DKW Literary Agency. She's also on Twitter or on her website : EveHarvey.com

8 comments on “The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd

  1. Christine
    November 8, 2008

    This sounds like a book I want my teenage daughters to read. I’d like them to contemplate a world without the things they take so much for granted! Of course, I’m sure my parents said the same thing about me. They were children of the Great Depression and the Second World War.

  2. Jackie
    November 8, 2008

    Only 2 hours of computer time a day!?!?! AHK!!! This does not sound like a fun place to live. And 2015 isn’t all that far away, actually. I would think that immediacy would lend a great deal of realism to this book, which sounds like a great way to explore the topic. Laura sounds quite likable & the situation, as you say, is a little too realistic. It would leave the reader imagining how their life would work with rationing carbons, which would be a real eye opener.
    This is the second book this week which has tackled serious topics with humor & style. My hat is off to authors who have the skill to do it. Thanks Eve, for telling us about this book.

  3. me
    January 11, 2009

    I’m reading this, it’s really good. I agree that the immediacy brings more realism to the book, it says Laura was born in 1999 – when I read it I thought ‘that’s ages ago!’ It seems scarily real especially the Great Storm. Also, before I started carrying on reading it I was watching a comedian on tv making fun of how rubbish the 2012 Olympics are going to be, then the book said something like ‘Remember how rubbish the olympics were? Millions over budget, only ready 6 days before and then a wind turbine crushed it, all that concrete wasted.’ Also they’ve moved onto the euro in the book. If people read it after 2015 though and none of the things happen it wouldn’t be that good and you wouldn’t get the message, would they change the date and republish it? There’s a Carbon Diaries 2017 soon, does anyone know when it’s out?

  4. ellie
    April 17, 2009

    i ve read it. this book is all about taking your life into your own hands and making your own choices. I’m thirteen and if this actully happens i would be in uni and trying to live as student. think about it grown ups we will inherit the world, so if you muck it up we’ll have to clear up the mess!

  5. Jonathan
    April 22, 2009

    I didn’t like this book. Referring to carbon dioxide as “CO” is a good way to get on my nerves for a start. And as for the ending: what is this – anarchist radical feminist propoganda?

  6. Anni
    January 21, 2010

    hey, i’m anni from germany. my class and me had to read this book in our english lessons. first thought was “oh no, something stupid about environment”, but after i read the first few days i was surprised how good it was. it’s so realistic. fantastic book!

  7. Pingback: The Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd « Practically Paradise

  8. Ingrid
    June 4, 2012

    @Anni: Thanks for that comment. Could you tell me what grade you were in and what school it was and what level of comprehension you had. War es eine fortgeschrittene Klasse oder war es sehr gemischt. Ich wuerde mich ueber eine Antwort sehr freuen. Vielen Dank. Eine angehende Lehrerin.

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This entry was posted on November 8, 2008 by in Entries by Eve, Fiction: young adult, Uncategorized and tagged , , , .

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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