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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Carrie Anne's World: An Odyssey through Space and Time by Mark Whiteway is a speculative eco-fiction novel that follows its primary protagonist, a young man on his gap year by the name of Michael “Mike” O’Keefe, and a cataclysmic string of events that thrust him into conflict from almost the moment he takes a volunteer posting in Thailand. Eco-terrorists send a terrifying and violent message, but it is the message Mike begins picking up in his dreams that put fear in his heart. Carrie Anne, a child in an alternate universe who comes to Mike while he sleeps, reveals the devastating cost of the true human impact on Earth through continued ravaging, exploitation, and the dismantling and destruction of entire ecosystems. Carrie Anne is from a place and time where the worst-case scenario is already happening in real time, and Mike - she's been told - is the human who can save them all.
I tend to shy away from novels that cling to “chosen one” allegories in their plots. When I first read the blurb, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I envisioned Carrie Anne to be an incarnation of the Moon Child in Michael Ende's famed novel, The Neverending Story. Thank goodness I took a moment to click past the cover because missing out on Carrie Anne's World would have been a tragic mistake. Mark Whiteway does an exceptional job in developing characters with a seasoned writer's skilled and restrained hand, allowing the backstory and plot to unpeel through dialogue and action sequences. This is a very high adventure. Carrie's actual world and its inhabitants are very different from our own. They are all incredibly intricate, and Whiteway breathes life into all the characters we cross paths with. Also, a crossover between Mike/our world and Carrie Anne's raises the stakes. For me, Whiteway shines most in the novel's clever dialogue. This is one of my best reads of 2021. Very highly recommended.