Clean Air

Author: Sarah Blake

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Release Date: February 8, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a great take on climate change with a dystopian twist!

Throughout the years, there has been disaster after disaster after disaster.  Wildfires, floods, and earthquakes ravaged the earth, but no one expected the one disaster from the trees that killed many of the people.  The trees decided to express so much pollen that people couldn’t breathe.  Those that were trapped outside never had a chance.  People huddled in the hospital sealing off the outside to protect everyone from the pollen.  But people evolved and created new sealed houses with automated vehicles for transport to keep everyone safe.  Until a new threat emerged. 

Izabel has grown into a state of mediocrity with her family.  She lost her mother just before the pollening and found purpose helping people, but she eventually settled down with someone she met and they had a kid.  While he works from home as a robot operator and their daughter Cami goes to school, Izabel tries to find happiness in old news apps and isolation chambers, but struggles to find purpose.  When one of the houses in their town is slit open one night, all the occupant’s die, causing the first murder in several years.  This shocks the town to its core and sends several families to put in transfers to new locations.  The it happens again.  And again.  The most shocking part is that when Cami sleeps, she has conversations with someone that knows where the serial killer is, but who would believe them?  One night while on a ride, Izabel comes across the killer as he has just cut open the protective seal of a house.  When she tries to help the family, Izabel finds herself in a whirlwind of activity that she never anticipated.

This has unexpectedly become on of my favorite books for the year.  I’ve always enjoyed the dysptopian genre, but it has become quite predictable over the years.  I’m glad to see such a unique take with Clean Air.   From the premise of the book to the characters, I loved it all.  I was hooked from the beginning and just had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen.  There wasn’t really a slow moment throughout.  Izabel is an interesting main character who has had some bad experiences and seems to have lost her purpose, which I think is a lot more common than people realize.  I loved tagging along with her to try and figure out the mind of the killer.  I do think the ending could have been developed a little more, but who knows, maybe this could be a series? 

There is some language throughout the book that would make it more appropriate for mature audiences, but it didn’t take away from the story.  I recommend this to readers who enjoy stories about climate change and those who enjoy the dystopian genre.

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