Cover Image: Trashlands


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Member Reviews

'Trashlands' is my first encounter with the author Alison Stine and although I enjoyed reading this book I also had a nagging feeling that the storyline never really went anywhere.
There were some pivotal moments, but somehow it just always ended with a sizzle in my opinion and then I'm not even saying anything about the ending, which was rather disappointing I must say.
I know this all sounds rather negative, but there are things in this story to be raving about too.
I really liked the world building, it's very strong and although it said to be dystopian it has this very eery vibe that it could be us in the not so far future.
Very thought-provoking and mind boggling to say the least!
It's written at a nice pace, in multiple POV's, with jumping from past to present, but somehow it helps to build very strong characters you can connect with and root for.
All things that definitely show that the author has a knack of telling a great story as her world and characters come very much alive this way.
However, I missed an adventure somehow, not that living in Thrashland isn't one it's own, one that I certainly don't want to go through myself, but I needed something more from this very interesting premise I believe!
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[ Blog Tour ] Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review!

"Trashlands" is an engaging novel reflecting a likely future of our world through haunting and lush details.

Through multiple POVs comes a story of love and sacrifice, estrangement and community, living and surviving, art and purpose. And plastic has become the currency that rules all.

I read this book in quiet fascination, riveted. Existing alongside the complex, deeply scarred residents of Trashlands as they worked and scavenged day in and day out in order to survive.

The setting has its own dismal magnetism. Trashlands is the name of the strip club and the surrounding area. It’s located in Scrappalachia (the Appalachians in North America), specifically the Ohio region for most of the story. Some cities (The Els) survived the floods, fire, storms and pollution. City life is a tenuous illusion of normalcy, vastly different from that of Trashlands where homes are made with garbage, bugs are a cuisine, and women and children are the most vulnerable. The proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” rings true in this forever-changed world. People have had to get creative in how to use and reuse plastic, clothing, medicine, and more.

As I got to know the characters, I grew to care deeply about them. For Coral, doing all she can (giving all she can) to one day buy back the son she lost. For Foxglove, a dance at the club, trying to exist (to cope) in a body not fully her own. For Trillium, distancing himself from the pain of the past through his work as a tattoo artist. To name a few. The author has constructed a cast of dynamic and likable characters with heartrending stories. I liked that we got a range of memories/perspectives of those who remember life before the floods and those born into this new life.

I have never read speculative fiction or climate fiction before, so I wasn’t sure if I would like the story. But I was pleasantly surprised by how invested I was with what was going on. "Trashlands" was a really good read. There’s a lot to say and think about. The falling action was particularly touching after going through so much with the characters, experiencing the struggles of their world, and reliving their darkest memories. I highly recommend this story!
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I was super excited for this after really enjoying the author's debut . And so my expectations were high, sure. But Trashlands? Yeah, blew my expectations right out of the water. I adored this book, so much. And now I shall tell you why.

►It is so full of heart. These characters have been through it, yet they're still surviving. Some survive for themselves, some for their families, but they try so hard to make their lives mean something. Coral, the main character, is trying desperately to get to her son, who was stolen by what amounts to child traffickers.  And everyone in her life strives to help each other as best they can, even in the most dire of circumstances.

►The world was kind of incredibly done. The author alludes to life outside of "Scrappalachia", but it is where the main story takes place. It truly seems plausible that at the end of the world, trash is all that remains. That people are finally forced to reuse everything, to make something new from the refuse our generations leave behind. It's bleak, for certain. The few who do have wealth treat those who don't.... well, you know, as you'd expect- horribly. The strip club in the sea of garbage is a shining example. The owner not only owns the club, he owns all the foreseeable land around it, and in essence, everyone on it. People steal, cheat, lie, and it's messy, to be sure.

►The atmosphere was spot-on. I mean, it's garbage world, so you'd need it to be pretty bleak! And it was, but with definite hope, too. The homes were made of scavenged vehicles, odds and ends the occupants find along the way. The land itself was desolate, and barren, which was fitting too.

►It was thought-provoking and emotional. Obviously it was thought-provoking in its relevance, but more than that, it brings up so many questions of how the reader would handle these situations, too. And you cannot help but feeling absolutely devastated for Coral, for so many reasons. Without going into too much detail (for fear of spoilers of course), Coral's story absolutely tugged at my heartstrings- and her desperation to find her son was gutting.

►I loved the characters so very much. Beyond the fact that they were all survivors (of all varieties), they were all really well developed and unique. I loved that they all had personalities and goals and lives, even in such bleak times. Like yes, survival was a priority, but they all also were their own people beyond that, which I found especially lovely.

Bottom Line: Absolutely loved everything about this book, cannot wait to see what Alison Stine has for us next!
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“A consistent stream of plastic washed up. There was so much plastic in the world, Mr. Fall said, it would never run out.”

In this environmental dystopia, climate change has wrecked havoc. Flooding & tides have wiped out whole cities & states, changing the coastland. The world’s remaining governments agreed not to produce any more plastic. What’s left is a hardscrabble life as people cope without enough food, clean water, or electricity. 

Coral is a plucker. She finds plastic items in rivers and woods that’s sold or bartered. Plastic is the new currency and plastic is life. Coral lives in Trashlands a giant garbage dump in what was once Ohio. It’s main draw is a strip club which offers girls, drinks, and air conditioning. Coral refuses to leave Trashlands because she hopes one day her son will find his way back to her. Her son was kidnapped as a young boy, sent to work a brick factory. Small quick hands are needed to sort plastic before it’s  melted down & made into bricks. When a mysterious reporter turns up at Trashlands, he offers Coral hope and the means to find her son. 

I loved so many of characters in this book!  Coral’s an artist at heart in a world where everyday is a struggle to survive-especially for women and children. Mr. Fall, is another wonderful character. Even living in a garbage dump, he believes in education. He teaches the kids and the strippers who live at Trashlands how to read with a precious, battered set of Encyclopedia Brittanica. 

This is a remarkable and cautionary story populated with characters you won’t soon forget.
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I enjoyed reading Alison Stine’s debut ‘Road out of Winter’ and I was excited to see how her latest book, also a dystopian fiction would match up to my high expectations. In some ways Trashlands is very similar in feel, but it has some key differences and this one certainly feels a lot more polished. 

Road out of Winter didn’t focus as much on the causes of the disaster that changed the world (a perpetual Winter that never ceased), however Trashlands gives a lot more backstory on the events. There’s been rising sea levels, floods and pollution and the world’s powers have agreed not to make any more plastic – meaning garbage is now currency. The scale of the disaster in a global, or even across state lines way is not explored fully – we only learn of events through character backstory but these small insights make for an interesting read. The story also has a moral of how much plastic we consume and throw away and I certainly felt guilty about my water bottle as I was reading it! 

Alison Stine really shines at making believable, interesting and gritty characters and this really comes through in Trashlands. We meet Coral - a young mother who uses precious plastic to make art after her child was taken away, her partner Trillium - a tattoo artist, Mr Fall - an older teacher trying to keep the memories of the old society alive and Foxglove – a stripper who allows men to permanently ink their names on her body. The setting is Trashlands: a junkyard converted to a strip club owned by the shadowy Rattlesnake Master who owns everyone and everything inside. We learn a lot about the characters through conversations and backstory and this continues all the way through the book meaning you still have more experiences to learn about to explain why people act a certain way. There were some inconsistencies in this though – although I understand that Coral wanted to make art, sacrificing large plastic pieces that could have been worth a lot of money (money that she is saving to help her find her son) seemed very out of place. I didn’t really understand why she didn’t use nature or another medium instead of something so precious.

There’s a fair amount of tension and drama in the book but not too much action happens. I was quite disappointed that the ending leaves a key event hanging in the balance with no resolution but it has kept me thinking about the story for a while after I read it! This is also how Road out of Winter ended – not quite a ‘happy ever after’ conclusion but something which could be taken either way.

Overall, Trashlands is a character driven dystopian story with a point to make about how we are harming the world around us. Thank you to NetGalley & Harlequin – MIRA for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Disappointing.  I should preface my review by noting that I was a huge fan of Road Out of Winter and was very much looking forward to this.  Set in Scrapalachia at some time in the not too far future, it's the story of a group of people who survive by picking plastic and live gathered around the Trashlands strip joint.  Coral, who was found as an abandoned baby by Mr. Fall, is meant to be the centerpiece as she aches for her son Shanghai, who was taken by a gang to work in a plastic recycling factory.  There's also a couple of strippers, three good men, a bad man, and so on.  The world building is weak- I never understood  what happened, why the plastic was in Scrapalachia, who was paying for the plastic the people picked, why on earth Miami thought he could find a single pink plastic bracelet and so on.  The time line didn't work.  The perspective jumps from person to person,  which usually doesn't bother me but I kept getting Foxglove and Summer confused.  And then there's Shanghai.  Stine has a lot to say about our overuse of plastic, among other things, but she lost me.  It's grim, dark and unbelievably gritty.  Thanks ro the publisher for the ARC. I'll be the odd one out.
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I don't mind admitting that Trashlands took me by surprise. I tend to avoid futuristic, doomsday-type stories because all too often, they either go completely off the rails or they depress the daylights out of me. But the blurb sounded different than what I'd seen, and the premise intrigued me. This one certainly gets a bit dark, and Coral has her share of problems, but there's an underlying sense of hope, the feeling that all is not yet lost throughout the book. The story is told from multiple points of view and the timeline jumps back and forth, both of which were much less jarring than I would've expected. The pacing feels almost lazy, for lack of a better description. It's not too slow, but it kind of wanders. Much like the genre, that's another element I don't usually care for, but it just works with these characters and their story. And that leads me to the author and her gift for storytelling. For whatever reason, the pacing, the jumping from past to present and back again, the multiple points of view, it all worked when Alison Stine put them together. This is a story well worth reading, and I'll be interested to see what the author does next.
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Like Stine’s debut novel, Road Out of Winter (2020), Trashlands takes place in Appalachia, a setting that in its future form appears a lot like its present-day form in key ways. In this novel, people are named after things (animals/plants/cities) that have become extinct, Appalachia is practically coastal due to how high the ocean has risen, and plastic (in any form) has become the national currency. This novel explores how Art might figure into the climate-ravaged future, positing that the desire to create things for non-functional/practical purposes does in fact have a “practical” end in that it gives purpose to life. Trashlands is also simply a compelling story of a community in a junkyard + strip club at the end of the world!
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After reading and reviewing her first novel, Road Out of Winter, I jumped at the chance to read and review this one.

Trashlands is a story of true resilience, crafted in only a way someone who lived in Appalachia could give it proper justice, and Stine brings readers yet another believable story of a new dystopia. The ways of electronics and life in general have changed drastically due to a climate crisis, especially in lower class regions, leaving people to resort to bartering and a long-time tradition: the sex trade. It’s a world in which most housing is in buses or cars, and stripping and sex work are still viable ways to earn a living. Trading raw materials (such as plastic) is the modern currency. Among the junkyard of the Trashlands, there are a diverse group of people who become like a family, using their individual knowledge, skillsets, and of course their bodies to try to survive inside a region where very few are prosperous and most never escape. There are many individual storylines that when intertwined paint a clear picture of the struggles and resourcefulness that they have each faced in their quest for survival. The sum of each individual story gives credence to how the community bands together to help one another survive.

Despite the setting of the book, the themes are eerily current and the characters are relatable. The storyline is easy to follow, while sucking the reader in, keeping them interested. The only complaint I have is how the book ends, which is a recurring theme with her books. The ending is left open, I’m assuming in case she wants to revisit the characters, but it leaves me desperate for more.

Special thanks to HarperCollins for the advance review copy of Trashlands supplied to All thoughts and opinions are our own.
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Alison Stine is back with another spectacular work of speculative fiction. Set in the near future, Trashlands transports readers to another vision of Stine's dystopian Appalachia. In Road Out of Winter, Stine envisioned a world in a state of near-perpetual winter, and now Trashlands showcases a world devastated by floods and tornadoes, where most cities are barely still standing and plastic is the only form of currency. Full of Scrappalachian plastic gatherers called "pluckers," and workers at the Trashlands strip club, Trashlands is a quiet analysis of how much things can change and how much they can stay the same--power is held in the hands of a few, traumatic events have lifelong consequences, and love is complicated. This novel has firmly cemented Alison Stine into my "auto-buy" authors category.
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What I Loved

Trashlands by Alison Stine brings the reader to a most uncomfortable place.  Why do I love that?  I do because it is through discomfort that real change is born.  This story is incredibly thought-provoking on a topic for which there are no easy answers.  Let’s face it – no one is anti-environment, but there is not a cheap, easy answer for our situation. Plastic is cheap, and recycling it isn’t nearly as cheap as just making more.  And, who doesn’t love low cost?  How many of us are willing to have our buying power diminished by the expense of finding more environmentally conscious methods and products?

That’s why Trashland’s impact comes from its ability to put readers in an uncomfortable situation and let them just take in that discomfort.  I couldn’t help but think of the prospects of a future in Scrappalachia, which was once the gorgeous Appalachia that we all know in person or by pictures.  Imagine that pristine landscape reduced to a place of little life, and lots of trash is sad and mind-blowing.  To experience what it’s like to live in a garbage dump and spend your days fishing plastic out of the river to trade for whatever goods are available is just beyond what we would typically consider or would quickly dismiss.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg for what the people in this book must endure.  All the characters are highly complex and layered. This story is perhaps even more character-driven than it is plot-driven.  The theme of family is heart-breaking and powerful, as everyone needs a family to even hope to survive. And, the narration of this story, through multiple first-person narrators, instead of being confusing, ends up making the story even more immersive and impactful.


Coral is arguably the main character of this story which features many of the inhabitants of Scrappalachia.  She is everything you can hope for in the main character – determined, relatable, and incredibly sympathetic.  Life has not been good to her, and to see that level of resilience is just extraordinary.  All the narrators are survivors, but Coral has something special about her that compels you to keep reading even as your discomfort grows.

What I Wish

I wish there were more straightforward answers – that simple.  But, I know we must continue to think about the problems and possible solutions even when they make us uncomfortable.

To Read or Not to Read

If you are looking for a thought-provoking story with strong, relatable characters, then you will want to visit Scrappalachia soon.
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by Alison Stine 
Pub Date: October 26, 2021 

From the author of Road Out of Winter, winner of the 2021 Philip K. Dick Award, comes a resonant, visionary novel about the power of art and the sacrifices we are willing to make for the ones we love.
This is a new author for me. I read the write-up on NetGalley and I was drawn to the book.  I am glad I got a chance to read it!  
Anyway, this book is fantastic. Not a wasted word. Takes place in the not-too-distant future when coastal flooding has eliminated many cities, plastic and chemicals have ruined the earth(although plastic becomes the currency of barter), and the Midwest is the junk capital--Scrappalachia.
Thanks to Mira and NetGalley for the ARC. Anyone who reads this book will probably never look at plastic you see by the road the same again.  I recommend this!  5 stars
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Imagine a world where the most valuable thing is plastic.  The plastic used a currency and a building block for your homes.  Imagine a world where things have become so terrible that your children are stolen from you to work in factories until they are too old to be of use.  Trashlands is a world that  Alison Stine is sharing with us that could very well become our world.  Our main character unexpectedly becomes pregnant, and one night, her camp is raided, and her son stolen from her.  Now her whole life revolves around getting enough money to get him back.  This is a well-thought-out novel, but I wish the ending I wanted to had been more resolved and more petite to figure out yourself because of these characters.  I felt for them and the hardships and challenging decisions that they make.  The world-building was creative enough. I could imagine this world of trash and plastic and the dangers of living like that—overall, an excellent thought-provoking story.
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There is something strangely beautiful about trash: the mystery of what something once was or could become, the hidden treasures buried beneath the rubbish, and the stories that can be told in heaps of refuse. There is also power in trash: how it accumulates and consumes, how it travels and transforms landscapes, how it often outlives those who discard it. But, there is also value in it, and in Trashlands, author Alison Stine’s second novel, the value of trash stands at the forefront of her thought-provoking dystopian vision of the future. When garbage—plastics especially—become more valuable than a human life, what does it even mean to be human?

And that’s how I ended up immersed in the world of Scrappalachia, a region-wide garbage junkyard of the American future, where the Appalachian region has become the dumping ground for the East Coast. The quantities of trash that humans have produced is seemingly endless, polluting and overflowing, to the point where governments banned the production of new plastics. That’s how a place like Scrappalachia becomes valuable: plastic is the new currency of the world. It’s collected, sifted, sorted, with traveling bands of pluckers migrating to different places to make ends meet finding and selling valuable plastics. This is a world of survival, but also community, and Stine had me hooked within the first few chapters.

A lot of my enjoyment and investment in this book came from the characters and their relationships. This is a fascinating, intimate look at a community living within the junkyards, with a grimy strip club called Trashlands serving as a hub for the surrounding area. Like a tidepool, tucked in amongst a rocky coast, the Trashland community is a microcosm of humanity’s future: Coral, the protagonist, is a plucker whose son was taken from her, and she spends her free time making art from unique pieces of trash; Trillium is a tattoo artist and Coral’s romantic partner; Mr. Fall is Coral’s adoptive father and a teacher for the junkyard children; Foxglove is a stripper at Trashlands with a troubling past and a body covered in tattoos; Miami is an investigative journalist come from one of the big cities to report on the junkyard communities, albeit with an ulterior motive; Summer, a hairdresser and Mr. Fall’s partner; Shanghai, Coral’s son and a child slave at a plastic processing plant; Rattlesnake Master, the morally decrepit owner of the Trashlands strip club; and Tahiti, the bouncer of Trashlands with a heart of gold.

All of the characters in the book are interesting in one way or another, but Coral is the heart and soul, her bright red shock of hair and honest personality a sort of candle flame for disparate individuals to get drawn towards. I was immediately invested in her story and how it unfolds, as it’s so painful but also brimming with hope. Her search for her son is relentless, but she’s also flawed, sometimes too stubborn to ask for help from those who love her. Trillium was another captivating character, curious and withdrawn as many tattoo artists are. And, as a former tattoo artist myself, Stine wrote his DIY stick-and-poke approach to tattooing incredibly well, including details about making inks and needles and approaches to designs. Although, I did find myself cringing at the thought of how freakin’ unhygienic getting a tattoo on a bus in the middle of a junkyard in a dystopian future would be.

All that aside, Trashlands is a character story, and the characters were so believable that I found myself empathizing with them constantly. They live in a bleak future, yes, but community still means so much and the relationships between each of them feels realistic and tugged at so many of my emotions. I felt disgust at how Rattlesnake Master runs his strip club and treats his employees; I felt sadness for Miami and the loneliness of this city man searching for memories in trash; I felt love, between Coral and Trillium, Mr. Fall and Summer, Foxglove and Tahiti; and I felt hope, over and over again, through characters who are working towards a better future—however that may look in a literal dump.

That fairly bleak setting was also something I loved about the book. Stine brought this junkyard to life, a place flowing with trash but also teeming with life. Next to rusted husks of cars were makeshift shanty homes, a busted satellite dish served as a drying rack for clothes, and all of the junkyard children gathered around Mr. Fall as he taught them everything he could in his best replication of a classroom. Trashlands itself too was a beacon, one of depravity, calling in lonely, drunken men from the surrounding regions, but also of bright flashing lights, the constant thump of a bass line, and inside a group of people making the best of a shitty situation.

Stine’s writing style and pacing also help to convey the energy and atmosphere of the junkyard, as well as the inner workings and relationships of the characters. She has a style akin to Hemingway’s “Iceberg Theory,” in which subtext is more often implied through interactions and things not said. I loved that. It’s something she used in her previous book, Road Out of Winter, but here it’s clear that she has further honed this approach. Things are told only when they need to be, and mysteries about characters and their histories, thoughts and desires are drip-fed in a way that is ultimately satisfying. I felt like I wanted to know more than was being told, but not in a bad way—rather it ramped up my curiosity, and also spurred my imagination to conjure my own theories, ideas and scenarios. This approach feeds the pacing too, which, while not always perfect, had a good balance between different points-of-view, offered multiple perspectives on shared scenes and provided interesting revelations through slow, well-timed context.

Now, into what didn’t work—for me at least—and I can’t say there was a ton I didn’t like. On the topic of pacing, there were some chapters that focused on a particular character for too long, or a string of chapters that had me aching to get back to someone else’s narrative. There were also a few characters that I wanted to know more about, in terms of backstory and motivations and wants (Trillium and Foxglove in particular), whose story lines felt a bit underdeveloped. Then there’s the ending, which I both liked and didn’t. The ending itself was satisfying, and I enjoy how Stine isn’t afraid to leave things open-ended, but the lead-up to that ending felt rushed. As Coral and Shanghai’s respective worlds collide, it felt good, despite them being a broken mother and child and knowing how their journeys unfolded. But I wish things had a little more breathing room to really hit that ending home.

Few gripes aside, Trashlands was a stellar outing for Alison Stine. Her debut novel Road Out of Winter was a great read, but Trashlands built upon that groundwork and ran with it in mesmerizing ways. In the desolate environs of a junkyard, Stine has evoked raw, honest humanity, the connective tissue of community, love, heartbreak, perseverance and the notion that optimism can exist in a place such as this. Fittingly, Coral’s garbage art acts as the perfect metaphor: in a world of trash, where plastic is more valuable than a human life, there will always be the hope that one can do more and be more.
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Trashlands by Alison Stine is a quiet but impactful read. It presents a look at what our world may end up like if we don’t start caring for our planet right now. 

Mass flooding and other natural disasters caused by climate change have shrunk North America and completely changed everyone’s way of life. In this new world, nothing is definite, and everything is a struggle. Women are more vulnerable than before the floods; children are often forcibly taken to labour camps; plastic is the new form of currency. 

In an area renamed Scrappalachia, Coral lives with her partner on a junkyard known as Trashlands. Trashlands is a dance club owned by a vile man called Rattlesnake Master, the self-appointed Mayor of the community. 

Rather than work as a dancer, Coral is a plucker, someone who salvages usable plastic from the shore and woods. In her limited spare time, she creates art sculptures from scraps and leaves them in the woods for people to do what they will with them. Several years ago, Coral’s son Shanghai was forcibly taken to a children’s labour camp. Since then, Coral has been trying to save enough plastic to buy his freedom. 

A reporter named Miami arrives at Scrappalachia with a vague goal of trying to find something. Miami’s life becomes intertwined with the people of Trashlands, and his presence opens up the possibility of changing some of the lives in the community. 

This story has multiple perspectives and a timeline that jumps from the past to the present and vice versa. I found it less jarring as the story progressed. Usually, when reading from multiple POVs, I’ll prefer one perspective over another, but with this book, I found them all engaging. 

This novel is paced slowly and is meandering, but it managed to capture my attention entirely. While this book explores some dark themes, there is still a lingering hope that permeates through, signalling that it is not too late to change things. 

CW: child abuse/neglect, drug usage. 

Thank you to MIRA for the arc via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Book: Trashlands 
Author: Alison Stine 
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars 

I would like to thank the publisher, Mira Books, for sending me an ARC. 

I loved Alison’s first book, Road Out of Winter, so much. It was one of those books that just pulled you in and left you wanting to read more. There is just something about the way she writes that just pulls you in and makes it very difficult to get out. She presents everything in a manner that is so real and it just makes you feel as if you are there. You are in the Trashlands with the characters, experiencing all the horrors and joys of what the characters are going through. Plus, the situations that the characters are put in could actually happen. I think that is the scary about this book. 

Everything that happens in this book could actually happen. We are dealing with a world in which society has pretty much broken down and now everyone has to pick up the pieces. We see people out trying to come up with ways to survive. Some of the characters have to do things that they normally would. Coral is the character who comes to mind whenever I think of this. Her son has been taken from her and is now working in the factories. We see her putting herself in situations with the hopes of trying to get him back. We also have young women working at a strip club because, again, they have no other options. So many people are put here because of that reason. There is no choice. The only other choice is to die and many of these people do want to live. They have this desire to keep on going. It really makes you stop and wonder what you would do if you were in their situation. Would you have the will power to keep on going or would you just lie down? I like it whenever books make you think about what you would do if you were in the same situations as the characters. 

The characters we meet throughout the course of the book are very complex and developed. Again, this all comes down to the situations that they have been forced into. They are a product of the world again them. However, some have chosen to use what life has thrown at them for good, while others have not. It just depends on what the characters have decided to do with their lives and what to make of them. We do see a lot of people bringing out the good in humanity. We see them come together and try to have a somewhat normal life. We also see a lot of people bring out the not so good aspects of human nature. Again, it all comes down to how you are going to deal with the situation. Once again, it also makes you questions what you would do if you were in the characters’ situation.  

Again, I think what I really liked about this book is the fact that it pulls you in and really makes you think about what you would do if the world fell apart. I know it kind of did in 2020, but this is on a whole other level. 

If you are looking for a science fiction book that makes you think and seems real, I highly encourage you to pick this one up. You will not be sorry that you did. 

This book comes out on October 26, 2021. 

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Trashlands is atmospheric and detailed, transporting you to a world of scarcity. It's like nothing I've ever read. Trashlands details a world so unlike the one I'm familiar with, and yet in some ways so similar. How there has been waves of immense change, of reaping our mistakes, but even then there's this desire to create, to form families, and to find hope. For me, I was enjoying the world building and slow character development, and then all of a sudden I could not put Trashlands down.

I think it was the moment that the action exploded like a firework. When all these pieces Stine established, suddenly bloomed and began connecting. The moment these fragments of life, hints to the shrouded past, became clear. And then I couldn't put Trashlands down until I was finished.
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This interesting dystopian novel imagines a world where the abundance of plastic makes it the most used resource.  Following several characters living in a junkyard in "Scrappalachia", as they attempt to survive and find meaning in a very meager and dark existence.  It felt mostly realistic, as I know that long after the worst has happened, all of our plastic will still be around.  The characters are all very distinct and well developed.  The overall timeline of how things came to be did seem implausible and bothered me somewhat, but I still liked this book.  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I just…. Don’t get it.

This is an odd book, a mixture of The Grapes of Wrath and the (hopefully) distant future. It’s a reflection of humankind, a reflection of what makes us human. It’s the story of Coral, a young woman whose child was kidnapped and forced to work in a factory, but there’s so much more to the story than just that. It’s a story about the lives of people woven together like that plastic quilt Summer made. 

But I don’t get it. I don’t understand why the author chose to weave the story together in a haphazard timeline. It was very confusing to read. We could jump from the person to person, and different points of time in a heartbeat. I didn’t understand a good portion of what I read. I think the characters are interesting. I think the setting was gritty and grimy, which was the point. I appreciated the world building.
But it felt like we were thrown into the middle of someone’s life and then vigorously plucked out of it with no real sense of resolution. This feels like a classic book that I was required to read in school, that everyone around me really liked, but I just don’t understand why anyone likes it.

One star.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC of this book.
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Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reader’s copy. 

This book is simply amazing! It’s an eco-dystopian thriller set in the near future, when the Earth has been ravaged by climate change, rising sea levels and flooding, chemical leakages, and plastic pollution. Much of the land has turned toxic and the few remaining barely-getting-by-cities rely on recycled plastic bricks both as currency and building materials.

in a place called Trashlands located Scrappalachia (a future play on Appalachia, here set vaguely in Southern Ohio), the destitute spend their days hunting through a highly polluted river for recyclable plastic that they can sell, much like panning for gold in bygone days. Plastic has become the new currency. Picking through trash for plastic that has not been recycled before, they barely scrape out an existence as they face hunger, poverty, lack of nutrition, violence, an evil overlord, and scavenging kidnappers coming in randomly to snatch young children for factory work due to their agile fingers ability to pick out small usable plastic pieces.  At the center of Trashlands stands a neon-lighted strip club which attracts the worst kind of men, staffed by well-meaning women who turn to sex work to survive. Rattlesnake Master runs not only the club but treats Trashlands as his own fiefdom. He charges residents for food, electricity and basic at jacked up prices much like the factory company stores of old. 

At the center of this story stand three strong compassionate women survivors, single mom Coral and club workers Summer and Foxglove, who transcend their abject poverty and the misogyny of the men who come into Trashlands to get intoxicated and laid. By their sides are compassionate men looking out for them: Coral’s surrogate Dad, Summer’s lover and teacher of the children, Mr. Fall; Coral’s older boyfriend Trillium, and a reporter from the city coming to avenge his sister’s death in Trashlands. The action centers on pulling together the resources to rescue Coral’s son who was kidnapped years prior, and who has his own narrative interludes while imprisoned in the plastic brick factory. 

It comes together with heart and ferocity, where the instinct to survive and to draw ones you love close transcends into hope and conquers evil. You want these characters to be your best friends if you found yourself in an apocalypse, and you hope that you would have the heart and grit to make it through like they do. 

This books also resonates with you long past finishing it- and you’ll never look at the massive plastic trash that our consumer lives generate and pollutes the Earth the same way.
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