The Ship by Antonia Honeywell

Just finished reading The Ship by Antonia Honeywell.  This is an interesting story set in a future world where resources are scarce, water levels have risen and flora and fauna have become extinct!

The main protagonist is Lalage, a young girl who, relatively speaking, has led a very sheltered life. Her father, through careful planning and foresight looked to the future and formed a means of survival for his family.  Gaining Government favour through one of his concepts Lalage’s father managed to stay abreast of all the tight regimental controls placed on the population.  Everyone carries an ID card and without one you have no citizenship and no rights to food or shelter.  The Government continually change the regulations surrounding registration making it necessary to re register on a regular basis and failure to comply can at the best lead to homelessness and slow death or at worst instant execution.  Lalage’s father has a contingency plan – a Ship, fully stocked and ready to sail whenever things become too desperate and survival is threatened.  Where exactly he plans on going, who he will take and when he will know is the right time to make a move are open to debate.

Of course The Ship eventually sails – I don’t think that’s really a spoiler given the title.  At first Lalaga, herself newly accustomed to loss, finds it hard to deal with life on board.  Unlike the others on board (just shy of 500) Lalage has not lived through the constant fear, suffering and deprivation experienced by most people.  She has something nagging at the back of her mind and seems to find it impossible to relax into this life of plenty.  Of course the other inhabitants don’t understand her apprehension and in fact she disturbs them with her constant questions that dredge up painful memories of loss for them.

So, the setting.  Is a ship – so pretty easy to envisage.  The author uses this trick of repetition – which can become a little bit annoying, or at least at first it was, but then I figured this was a deliberate ploy to make you understand the close confines and repetitive daily procedures for those on board.  She further compounds this by making Laglage’s cabin feel a little like a prison where she scratches out a mark for each day that passes.

In terms of characters Lalage is the main character.  Her father is set up as a saviour to the others on board and seems to take on an almost cult, sinister father figure leading his devoted followers to who knows where.  The other character is Lalage’s love interest  She briefly finds escape in a first romance but even then her concerns are never far from the back of her mind.

The Ship reads a little like a coming of age novel and for me I would say it has a strong YA feel and in that respect I’m not the intended audience.  My reasoning behind this don’t relate solely to Lalage’s age but more to the lack of detail around what exactly has taken place and the fact that not everything here would stack up to too much detailed scrutiny.  On top of that we have Lalage and her way of behaving in a very dramatic fashion which makes her appear to be flouncing around and pouting about I didn’t always know what.  I think the main issue I had with Lalage was the way she railed against the confines of the ship.  I just found it strange that for a young girl who had really ever known her parents and the confined space in which they lived – the ship and all it’s other inhabitants would feel new and a bit awesome to her wouldn’t it?

I did like the way this poses questions about how quickly people will remain civilised when faced with a dire situation and more to the point how far they’ll go to help others.  Will self preservation kick in?

On the whole I found this an interesting read, it’s well written and the concept is intriguing but like I said I think personally this will be more appealing to a slightly younger audience who will probably relate better to Lalage.

I received a copy of this courtesy of the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.


3 Responses to “The Ship by Antonia Honeywell”

  1. jenclair

    Sounds interesting and has a great cover. I usually enjoy futuristic/dystopian novels and like the premise of this one.

  2. Sunday Summary | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] The Ship  by Antonia Honeywell – an intriguing idea […]

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