The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold
When the catastrophic Fly Flu leaves the world in shambles, few survivors remain. Among the remaining, is eighteen-year-old Nico and her father in an old farmhouse in rural Northern New Hampshire. As Nico’s father’s mental state declines, he sends her and her dog Harry on a journey through the woods to Manchester to find and open a mythical portal. Nearby the farmhouse is someone known only as “the Deliverer” who has lived Life after Life in pursuit of changing the course of events that led to now. In another town, twelve-year-old Kit is raised in an abandoned cinema, having only known the world after the flies. As Nico sets out on her journey, the lives of the three intersect in unexpected ways.
The Electric Kingdom is told in the third person from three unique perspectives: Nico, a teenager traveling alone in the woods with her dog Harry, Kit, a twelve-year-old who has only ever known a time after the flies, and the elusive Deliverer. It imagines a rural post-apocalyptic New Hampshire as a stark and dangerous place. The few remaining are constantly tested by the elements, risk of starvation and dehydration, and large swarms of Flu Flies, carnivorous insects that consume all flesh they come across. But by the same merit, it highlights the intrinsic beauty of a quiet world where simple pleasures like a good book or a comforting meal are all one needs.
Originally I wanted to read The Electric Kingdom because it was compared to Station Eleven, a favorite of mine. While this is an accurate comparison, I feel like it does not do The Electric Kingdom justice. The Electric Kingdom is a character-driven novel that celebrates the human need for interpersonal relationships and the struggle to survive in a broken world. It has just the right amount of science fiction, carefully mixed with atmospheric winter scenery. At first, I found the science fiction/fantasy elements a bit frustrating and bizarre. But after a bit, they seamlessly integrate into the narrative until they delicately wrap the story in a neat bow. I will be haunted by the ending of The Electric Kingdom long after finishing the book.
I highly recommend The Electric Kingdom for fans of realistic science fiction, especially apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction.
Thank you to BookishFirst and Penguin Teen for the review copy! All opinions are my own.
Synopsis from Goodreads
When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico’s father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. As swarms of infected Flies roam the earth, these few survivors navigate the woods of post-apocalyptic New England, meeting others along the way, each on their own quest to find life and light in a world gone dark. The Electric Kingdom is a sweeping exploration of love, art, storytelling, eternal life, and above all, a testament to the notion that even in an exterminated world, one person might find beauty in another.
About the Author
David Arnold lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his (lovely) wife and (inquisitive) son. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Mosquitoland, Kids of Appetite, & The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, which has been optioned for film by Paramount. His upcoming post-apocalyptic novel, The Electric Kingdom, will be out in 2021. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages.
Learn more at davidarnoldbooks.com and follow him on Instagram @iamdavidarnold and Twitter @roofbeam.