Genre Guide: Cli-fi (Climate Fiction) in YA Lit

Photo Jan 18, 11 07 53 PMClimate fiction (CliFi) books (also known as eco-fiction) are ones that deal with climate change as part of the plot in which the characters struggle to survive. A lot of dystopian novels are clifi books because the breakdown of society is attributed to a catastrophic event like a nuclear war that affects the climate. I wanted to focus here on books where the climatic event was not directly caused by a man-made event like a war, but by nature, for the most part. Not all of these novels are realistic fiction or science fiction; at least one contains fantastical elements as well.

In The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan (2014), Leilani, Photo Jan 18, 3 35 37 PM16, and Mike, her ecologist father, go to Honolulu for treatment for her epilepsy but when a cloudlike organism appears in the sky after a tsunami, it causes the world to panic and plunges the metropolitan area into chaos. She and her father find themselves detained in an internment camp and struggle to get back to their family on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Photo Jan 18, 1 50 27 PMNatural resources are at an all-time low in 16-year-old Tess’s futuristic world in Georgia Clark’s Parched (2014). Most remaining supplies are funneled into Eden, a walled city of privilege, where she was born, but the citizens who live outside the wall in the Badlands are much worse off. After the death of her scientist mother Tessa decides to combat this inequality by joining a rebel group called Kudzu and uncovers a shocking government plot to carry out genocide in the Badlands using artificial intelligence.

Two weeks after the radio in the United Kingdom started broadcasting the warning, “It’s in the rain. It’s Photo Jan 18, 2 32 17 PMfatal and there’s no cure,” the drinkable water is running out and most of the population is dead in H2O (2014) by Virginia Bergin. Ruby’s one of the survivors and she’s left with two options: persevere on her own, or embark on a treacherous journey across the country to find her father- if he’s even alive.

Continue reading Genre Guide: Cli-fi (Climate Fiction) in YA Lit

Jukebooks: The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan

islands at the end of the worldLeilani lives in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Although her mother is Native Hawaiian, her father is white, and the family had been living in California for most of Leilani’s childhood. She’s not accepted at her public high school,  partly because of her race, and partly because of the epileptic seizure that felled Leilani in the school cafeteria. It’s because of her epilepsy that Leilani and her father are flying from the Big Island to Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. As they prepare to travel, her father reenacts a family joke by singing John Denver’s Leavin’ on a Jet Plane. Fathers can be so hokey sometimes.

But while Leilani and her father are in Honolulu, the world goes berzerk. A strange green haze appears in the sky. Communication networks collapse. There are reports of nuclear power plants exploding across the globe. Soon enough, Leilani and her dad are ensconced in a makeshift camp run by the military, and the trip back to Hilo becomes a matter of life and death.

John Denver wrote Leavin’ on a Jet Plane in 1966, originally calling it Babe, I Hate to Go. Although Denver did make his own recording of the song, it was more famously recorded by the folk group Peter, Paul & Mary.  Their single was released in 1969, in the midst of Vietnam war protests. It’s wistful message of regret and tenderness touched many soldiers longing to reunite with loved ones.

Here are Peter, Paul & Mary with John Denver in 1969.

Diane Colson, currently reading The Hit by Melvin Burgess.