11.3.2023 | Friday

Camp Zero

category: Book Reviews
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Camp Zerotitle: Camp Zero
author: Michelle Min Sterling
published: 4 April 2023
publisher: Atria Books
genre(s): dystopian, postapocalypse, sci fi
pages: 291
source: Book of the Month
format: hardcover
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

rating: three-half-stars

the blurb

In a near-future northern settlement, a handful of climate change survivors find their fates intertwined in this mesmerizing and transportive novel in the vein of Station Eleven and The Power.

In the far north of Canada sits Camp Zero, an American building project hiding many secrets.

Desperate to help her climate-displaced Korean immigrant mother, Rose agrees to travel to Camp Zero and spy on its architect in exchange for housing. She arrives at the same time as another newcomer, a college professor named Grant who is determined to flee his wealthy family’s dark legacy. Gradually, they realize that there is more to the architect than previously thought, and a disturbing mystery lurks beneath the surface of the camp. At the same time, rumors abound of an elite group of women soldiers living and working at a nearby Cold War-era climate research station. What are they doing there? And who is leading them?

An electrifying page-turner where nothing is as it seems, Camp Zero cleverly explores how the intersection of gender, class, and migration will impact who and what will survive in a warming world.


  • my review
  • a few notes

I love a dystopian novel, especially one set in the near future. There’s something chilling about reading something grounded within the frame of my own reality. So from the moment I heard about it, I knew I needed to read Camp Zero.

But this was an extremely muddled read. A large part of the reason for the confusion was the sheer number of themes compressed into the story. It felt like too much, as if no one theme was fully explored or developed. Furthering the confusion was a back-and-forth timeline that was rarely easy to determine, as well as ever shifting perspectives. While the different perspectives and the shifts of time were germaine to the story, they lost something in the lack of clarity. It all just made for an often confusing read.

So many themes… a commentary on the effects of climate change, the effects of technology, misogyny, greed and corruption. Each of which is important, but again, underdeveloped. What I did like was the shades of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in the way the women were subjugated, almost used as a form of currency.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect was the Flick, an implanted device that essentially acts as a server. It eliminates the need for everything from a computer to a cell phone to a library, providing everything via a virtual feed that appears in front of one’s eyes. It informs one’s life so completely that it forms almost an addiction. That is chilling.

While I appreciated the overal arc of good versus evil, the ending felt muddied and unfinished. It left more questions than it gave answers. While there’s no sense of a sequel, it felt as if the story just didn’t really end.

content warning: ❗some graphic violence❗

POV: 3rd person
keywords/phrases: global warming, corruption, post apocalypse
cover notes: intriguing


About Michelle Min Sterling

Michelle Min Sterling was born in British Columbia, Canada, and now lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she teaches literature and writing at Berklee College of Music. Camp Zero is her first novel.

Rating Report
plot
three-half-stars
characters
three-stars
writing
four-stars
pacing
three-stars
Overall: three-stars

reading challenges:

  • 2023 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge
  • 2023 Linz the Bookworm Reading Challenge
::spread the love::

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