Review: “All the Little Children,” Jo Furniss

Pros: Fantastic tale of hardship, loss, and survival
Rating: 5 out of 5

All the Little Children, by Jo Furniss, follows Marlene and her children, as well as a few relatives and friends, on a camping trip. As it happens, while they’re camping in the woods of England, the apocalypse more or less comes and they’re left adrift. Everything is called into question–the status of relatives and friends, how they’ll keep themselves fed, and what they’ll do when other sorts of tragedy strike. Even Marlene’s parenting is called into question, especially when a boy dies. Eventually the group ends up gaining additional children, and Marlene finds herself unable to rely upon the other parent present.

Marlene isn’t a perfect parent, and neither is her sister-in-law (the other parent present). I appreciated that. It makes this a story more about people than a plague. There are plenty of hardships for the group to endure, from life-threatening injuries to a kid who feeds all their food to the dog, and what makes this different from other post-apocalyptic books is the focus on adult/child relationships. It’s also a nice change of pace for those who primarily read American post-apocalyptic fiction; the setting does introduce some differences. Politics have a role to play as well, which additionally keeps things interesting.

Even the small children have personality and their own unique ways of helping and hurting the situation. And with all the children involved, it’s easy for Furniss to tug on our heart-strings when things go badly. She isn’t afraid to invoke tragedy, paranoia, and imminent danger to keep the reader on her toes.

Between the great characters, the threats to life and limb, the interesting setting, and the hard knocks, this is a fascinating book to read. I was glued to the pages, wanting to know what happened at every turn.

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