This dystopian novel takes readers to a world which could all too easily be our own if we pay no heed to global warming. Jade and her terminally ill granddaddy live in the Wetlands where the inhabitants dread the next flood, as it will destroy their homes. Their only escape is a long journey over rough, high ground to the walled town of North-Hampton, where Wetlanders are despised and badly treated. When Jade’s granddaddy dies she and her friend Bates set off on that journey, alerted by the flood warnings and anxious to cross the pontoon bridge and reach the gates of North-Hampton before they are closed.
During their travels Jade is robbed by ferals, outcasts from society because they succumbed to smallpox, now no longer dormant. Bates takes her to the feral community’s boats on the river where his friend Samson retrieves Jade’s money and joins them on their journey to collect medicines for his friends. Prejudice is in the bones of this book as each group mistrusts the other and wants-or genuinely needs- what they have. Divisions in a society weaken it, set it at odds with itself and all this is only too familiar to readers. In truth, this story has so many resonances with our own that the characters are familiar to us-almost already known. Each of them carries a secret, a sorrow, a loss: a sister; a family; a friend.
Jade has to summon all her courage to try to track down her sister, sold to the notorious Duke, a gangster who uses girls to entertain his guests. Samson wants to contact his estranged father, Bates to help Jade, whose tiny family he became a part of when he had none of his own. Although they have nothing, their courage and loyalty are what help them to survive where they are not wanted, in towns whose inhabitants are fearful of anyone different.
The Drowning Day has a fast-paced, edge-of-your seat plot whose characters are easily strong enough to carry it. It creates unease and promotes awareness of what we must work to avoid in the future-and what a thought-provoking class reader it could become.