I took about a week to write a review on “The Light at the Bottom of the World,” the debut novel of London Shah. There are lots of great elements to her story that I enjoyed, but parts of it seemed like too much of a reach as well.
The story is a post-apocalyptic tale of life after the climate crisis that has caused massive flooding on the earth to the extent that no dry land remained. Humanity persists 1,000 feet below the ocean’s surface in watertight homes, in submarines and other submersible vessels. I think this book’s genre might fit the category of fantasy better than science fiction. There is also a romance mixed in as well as thrilling elements.
I thought Shah’s debut was ambitious undertaking, her imagining of such a diverse new world, she included interesting ideas of governments controlling sea creatures to use for spying, and genetically modified anthropoids who have been modified to breathe underwater and be able to withstand the crushing pressure at great depths.
What I found most interesting in the book was the contrasting of fear and hope between the earth’s survivors. There is constant talk that scientists will be able to find dry land and a habitable place for humans to re-populate above the sea and then a fear of the anthropoids that are attacking key human outposts. Another fear is the seasickness, a debilitating malaise that overcomes people who give in to hopelessness regarding humankind’s current situation, that often ends in suicide.
All told it was a fascinating story within an imaginative world that Ms. Shah has created.