Publisher: Dead Ink Books
Publication Date: 2 July 2019
I saw various Booktuber’s talking about Sealed by Naomi Booth and it sort of took root in my mind as being a book I could possibly love. I got super busy in the run up to Christmas and the book fell by the wayside and into the recesses of my tiny mind! There was one day over the Christmas period where in amongst thinking about cheese and wine and chocolate I thought ‘What was that book I saw being talked about where people’s bodies are sealing up?’……..Hey Mand, maybe the clue is in the title?…….
I put a quick tweet out asking my bookish friends if they knew of the book and the lovely Jordan Taylor-Jones offered to send me a copy for review (the HUGEST of thanks Jordan!). When it arrived I really wanted to crack into it straight away but also wanted to save it as my first read of 2020…………..
Reader, I caved on December 28th. I just couldn’t hold off any longer! Zero willpower, story of my life.
Sealed is set in Australia in the present day or the not too distant future. We follow Alice and Pete as they relocate out of the city and closer to the remote bush. Alice is heavily pregnant and obsessed with the effects of pollution, bush fires and the smog of the city. There have also been reported cases of a new disease called ‘cutis’ whereby people’s bodies are effectively sealing up (think eyes, ears, noses, mouths, genitals…….I know right! *shudder*).
Precious little is known about the disease and many experts are hypothesising about the potential causes. Alice has been following the news reports avidly and has created her own logs and files surrounding the reported cases.
Pete doesn’t seem to share Alice’s worry’s and is hoping that their move will alleviate some of her concerns and is desperate for them to make a fresh start where the air is clearer and hopefully Alice’s thoughts will be clearer too.
However, it’s not long before Alice is seeing hints of symptoms in the locals. The GP’s surgery won’t take on new patients and the staff there are cagey as to why. Alice tries to convey her fears and worries to Pete but he brushes them away in the hope of making a new life for their family.
The overwhelming fears that Alice has mean that her thoughts are almost entirely taken up by cutis. This in turn leads to difficulties with her bonding with her unborn baby which she looks upon as almost a ‘thing’ or a ‘creature’. Alice’s mother has also recently died and Alice has doubts about her official stated cause of death. This plays heavily on Alice’s mind throughout.
Pete tries to involve them both in small town life and they begin to socialise with their neighbours and their young son. Nobody around Alice seems to be overly concerned about cutis and the smog which only serves to make her more anxious. As her pregnancy progresses and reaches it’s peak, Alice finds herself trapped in the middle of the most horrific nightmare imaginable and fighting for her newborn baby.
What I loved about this book was the fact that the dystopian element was not so far fetched that it couldn’t be feasible. I am not a huge dysopian reader so I took a bit of a punt on this book in the hope that it wouldn’t be too far beyond the realms of possibility. On the flip side of this however is the dawning realisation that THIS COULD HAPPEN!
I mean….Ok…..it probably won’t, but WHAT IF?????……
I really felt for Alice as a character. You can really feel the sheer frustration she feels at not being able to convey to people how serious she knows cutis is. It’s almost as if she’s living in the middle of a conspiracy and battling to make her voice heard. There appear to be so many cover ups, not just officially but even her own partner playing down her fears and the creeping onset of his own.
I’ve read other reviews of this book which dub it an eco-horror, and I would agree with this. The ‘eco’ part of that runs throughout the book but the ‘horror’ really ramps up in the last 25-30 pages! As we know, Alice is heavily pregnant and what happens when women are heavily pregnant?……….Birth. Birth in times of serious crisis! The labour and birth scene (not a spoiler because hello, she’s preggers!) is so visceral and raw and not for the faint hearted!
Naomi Booth has such a stark and beautiful way of writing and I very much enjoy her style. I recently read The Lost Art Of Sinking by the same author and thoroughly enjoyed it. I feel like I am in safe hands with her books and I know I will enjoy anything she writes.
Sealed is a claustrophobic and intense read with an end that will make your toes curl. I loved it and would heartily recommend it!
Thank you so much to Jordan Taylor-Jones for my copy. I can’t wait to read what Naomi Booth writes next!
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat xxx