It’s 2049, due to climate change, the seasons are now extremes. The United States suffers with massive environmental catastrophes and people are flocking to the cold north. Camp Zero is soon to be a refuge for Americans to escape the heat of the south, the idealistic architect only needs to keep spurring the project on.
There are 3 narratives we follow in this story, and all 3 of those narratives. All 3 switch back and forth between present day and relieving flashbacks and are all well-differentiated. Korean American, Rose, is sent to Camp Zero to spy on the architect in exchange for a new life. She is seemingly docile, determined, and longs for a place to call home. Grant hopes the north is far enough to outrun his past and his family name. He takes a position as an English teacher at the camp, only for it to be not what he expected. Our last narrator is White Alice, which is a collective point of view using ‘we’ throughout the story. These is a group women sent north to a climate site.
Honestly, I didn’t particularly like any of our narrators. I pictured Rose to be monotone. Grant seemed idealistic and pampered. The collective ‘we’ viewpoint was the most interesting, but I tend to dislike stories told in first-person plural, it often distracts me from the story.
Plot wise – I found the story to drag. We spend quite a bit of time on flashbacks, which while I appreciated getting to know our characters more, I didn’t find them to add much to moving the story forward. It took me half the book to become somewhat engaged, though I will say when we got to the action, it was completely engaging. But the pacing was too slow for me, and the flashbacks really bogged down the story. There is a ton of commentary on climate change, environmental awareness, and sexism which I actually really enjoyed these parts of the story. But they couldn’t overcome the pacing of the story.
The ending was messy for me and left with quite a few unknowns. While we know that climate change is the reason for the environmental events, we never quite learn why we’re in a dystopian environment. It’s alluded to but the answers are never clear. If you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll know I love definitive endings, and am not a huge fan of open endings.
While I thought the writing was wonderful, the story just didn’t deliver for me. I found it to drag and I was left with too many unanswered questions. As a plot-based reader, I needed more action and my expectations of having a ‘page-turner’ skewed my opinion. This book is very much in the vein of Station Eleven, Goodmorning, Midnight, and The Drift. If you’re looking for a more character driven dystopian than this one is for you.
Camp Zero comes out April 4, 2023. Huge thank you to Atria Books for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof.books.