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It is some years since a virus killed all the adults. Now Sicily lies in ruins while the disease lies in wait, poised to claim the children as they reach adolescence.
Brave, stubborn thirteen-year-old Anna looks after her brother Astor in the cottage where their mother’s skeleton rests, lovingly decorated, in a locked bedroom. She tells him fearsome stories about monsters, hoping to keep him safe at home while she forages among the real hazards. Wild dogs. Gangs of savage, blue-painted kids.
But then Astor starts to question Anna’s version of the world, just as the blue kids are turning their attention to the cottage—and suddenly, everything will change.
‘A fearsomely gifted writer.’
‘Ammaniti’s writing is sharp, lean and pacy.’
‘Ammaniti excels…in capturing the thought processes and fears and desires of children… once you start reading him, you can’t put him down.’
‘Surreal but somehow also wholly believable. This book is repulsive and terrifying in all the right ways.’
‘One of Italy’s brightest literary stars.’
‘Ammaniti’s prose is faultless from the first…A fearsomely gifted writer.’
‘A writer of rigorous imagination and moral subtlety’.
‘A master storyteller.’
‘Ammaniti is a modern-day Dickens.’
‘An audacious and elegant post-apocalyptic novel.’
‘A post-apocalyptic narrative that brilliantly manipulates the usual models even as it transcends their limits…Ammaniti sets a new standard in post-apocalyptic fiction, while creating a world that, populated by desperate innocents, proves far more frightening than any stock cannibals-in-monster-trucks scenario.’
‘As well as conjuring up this excellent characterisation, Ammaniti’s prose has a strange, deadpan tenderness that I loved. There is always a sense of hope in the hopelessness. This is a sickeningly wonderful novel, and a perfect example of literary dystopian fiction.’
‘With William Golding's Lord of the Flies and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road as its touchstones, this dystopian novel pays homage to resilience and survival against the odds in a climate of violence and superstition. It’s also a coming-of-age story about a harsh transition to adulthood, with the added stinger that death waits in the wings.’
‘Ammaniti’s descriptions have a film-like quality…The story and those images have stayed vivid in my mind’s eye. The message this book carries is also important.’
‘A thought-provoking addition to the genre of science fiction.’