New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

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ARC provided by Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

All of the skyscrapers in the year 2140 are like miniature islands from the extremely elevated sea levels due to the effects of global warming. This book is a two year look into the residence of a very famous skyscraper complex in New York City. We get to see these individuals’ lives coincide with one another, and showcase some events that they all take part in to make New York a better place to live. Yes, it can be slow at times, but that is what is somewhat expected with family sagas (and these people are for sure a family at this point), but the importance of this book is undeniable. I hope it doesn’t take until 2140 for the people of our world to open their eyes and change.

“As always, each neighborhood was a little world, with a particular character. Some of them looked fine, others were bedraggled, still others abandoned. It wasn’t always clear why any given neighborhood should look the way it did. Things happened, a building held or fell down, its surroundings followed. Very contingent, very volatile, very high risk.”

Occupants whose life we follow that live in The Met Life Tower on Madison Square:
Vlade – The building manager, with a tragic past. Very caring, helpful, handy, and just a little cinnamon roll in general.
Mutt – Coder who is playing with something much bigger than himself.
Jeff – Coder with a very powerful cousin.
Gen – Investigator/Detective, and probably just the coolest cop I’ve ever read about. I seriously love this character with my whole heart.
Charlotte – Lawyer, who is very interested in congress, with a powerful ex-husband.
Franklin – Market trader, sort of a horndog, but a useful horndog. (I feel funny saying horndog.)
Amelia – Internet star with her own airship, whose passion in life is saving animals while filming it.
Stefan – Homeless boy who came over with his parents from Russia.
Roberto – Homeless boy that never knew his family.
Mr. Hexter – Old man who befriends the two boys above. He has many books and maps that lead to many adventures. And all of the stories he tells makes this book an ode to book lovers everywhere.

I know this seems like an unusual bunch, but I promise their friendships become something of magic and their diversity is realistic and so important, too. All their different dynamics seamlessly work together, and give me hope for the future, especially Roberto and Stefan.

“History is humankind trying to get a grip. Obviously not easy. But it could go better if you would pay a little more attention to certain details, like for instance your planet.”

A huge and relevant topic in this book is immigration. This story will constantly remind you of what is going on in today’s world. We get to see children suffering, just because they didn’t get lucky enough to be born into money or into a family that’s name is worthy of remembering. This book will constantly make you check your privilege.

“This remarkable rise had been bad for people-most of them. But at this point the four hundred richest people on the planet owned half the planet’s wealth, and the top one percent owned fully eighty percent of the world’s wealth. For them it wasn’t so bad.”

I don’t want to get too preachy in this review, but this book is a look into what could be our future if we continue to treat Earth the way we do. It breaks my heart to even think about what our government here in the United States cares about, while ignoring global warming, climate change, and all the other signs that we are slowly but surely killing our planet.

“They published their papers, and shouted and waved their arms, and a few canny and deeply thoughtful sci-fi writes wrote up lurid accounts of such an eventuality, and the rest of civilization went on torching the planet like a Burning Man pyromasterpeice.”

This book highlights what is happening right now in today’s world, while showing us what it is like to live in 2140, where our world has become so flooded that only the rich are truly ever safe, while the poor have to pray and hope they will be safe enough to live another day. Everyone lives in skyscrapers high in the air that have been reinforced to be able to stand above the water to allow housing for some. These buildings are like islands, separated by water, and people take boats wherever they go.

TL;DR – This book is woke as fuck, and should be required reading in 2017, especially to every government official, who still thinks it’s more important to control women’s bodies and make it harder to get health care while using our money to build a pointless wall.

This is also an important book to remind people that without us “normal folk” there wouldn’t be a government, because we are the government. Yes, we let banks and big corporations pretty much rule right now, but ultimately we are in control and we can/could change that.

On a much too personal note, many of you know I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. There is not a male in my family that isn’t currently working for General Motors, working for a corporation affiliated with General Motors, or that has retired from General Motors. It truly is the middle-class Michigan way. You might think this would make me loyal to them, but quite the contrary because they are terrible company that proves over and over how much they do not care about their workers. Every chapter that Kim Stanley Robinson touched on the choices GM made back in the 2000’s made me relate to this book even more than I already did. I have no words for that feeling or that emotion it evokes from me.

All these important topics: global warming, climate change, refuge crisis, wealth distribution, universal health care, free education, animal extinction – they are all discussed in great detail inside this book. And because of all of these things, we are all losing a war not only with our planet, but with each other, and we are all going to suffer the repercussions from these actions.

Closing advice: besides the fact that this book made me want to make a bigger difference and do more, it has also made me want to buy a house in Denver as soon as possible. This book teaches the reader a lot, but it will also reinforce the fact that nothing bad happens geologically in Denver. I’m legitimately only half way joking.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. As I stated above, it can be a little slow at times, and sometimes pieces of the puzzle will fit together a little too perfectly, but this is too relevant and important of a book to let pass by. That being said, I still wish there was a little bit more action and a little bit more mystery, but this book is still without a doubt worth the read and I urge everyone to pick this up.

“Because life is robust. Because life is bigger than equations, stronger than money, stronger than guns and poison and bad zoning policy, stronger than capitalism. Because Mother Nature bats last, and Mother Ocean is strong, and we live inside our mothers forever, and Life is tenacious and you can never kill it, you can never buy it.”

24 thoughts on “New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

  1. Great review, I received a surprise copy from the publisher last week, I’m not sure if/when I’ll get around to actually reading it though, so many books and not enough time. It’s also not a book I’d heard of until it arrived.lol Cool to know it’s a good read though even if it is lacking in action at times.😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Drew! Yeah, I was almost tempted to give it 4 stars, because it wasn’t a fast read by any means 🙃 but I felt like it deserved a full 5 just because of the importance. Also, I’m probably horribly biased because this was my first cli-fi. 😜

      But I hope you enjoy it when you get around to it, love! 💗

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, I do love the timeliness of this story, and I think it’s important for writers to tackle these subjects. I have a copy to read so I’m looking forward to it. Thanks for all your insights:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awh, you are such a sweetheart. I hope you like it too! It fell off a little bit towards the end, by just being a little story, but I still thought it was too important to not give five stars! 💗 I hope you have an amazing weekend, love!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Melanie, here is something very interesting but I cannot prove it. BUT — the character in the book called Octaviasdottir is I think [maybe?] a homage and shout out of respect to American sci fi pioneer Octavia Butler, yes? Since in Iceland naming traditions, people are often named dottir (daughter) to mean So and So is the dottir of So and So. …….See Wiki for Icelandic naming traditions. This is cool.Typical Icelandic naming…re WIKI PAGE:

    examples:
    In Iceland naming traditions, a man named Jón Einarsson has a son named Ólafur. Ólafur’s last name will not be Einarsson like his father’s; it will become Jónsson, literally indicating that Ólafur is the son of Jón (Jóns + son). The same practice is used for daughters. Jón Einarsson’s daughter Sigríður’s last name would not be Einarsson but Jónsdóttir. Again, the name literally means “Jón’s daughter” (Jóns + dóttir).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! You made referrence to it being slow at parts, not always a bad thing. It often is totally needed for character/world building. Stephen King and Robin Hobb are famous for slow parts that add to everything and make it better 🙂

    Love the cover!

    Liked by 1 person

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