Shrinking Sinking Land

A little rain never hurt anyone

Young Adult - Sci-Fi
386 Pages
Reviewed on 12/01/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Chester author Kell Cowley wrote and illustrated her first novel age eight, telling the story of a runaway radish escaping from a salad bowl to explore the far reaches of the garden. She has been perplexing her friends and family with her weird stories ever since. She holds a BA in Performance Writing from the wildly experimental Dartington College of Arts, won a novelist’s apprenticeship with the Adventures in Fiction development scheme and is the co-founder of 'Odd Voice Out' press. When she occasionally closes her laptop or latest reading obsession to spend time in the real world, she will likely be found shambolically running a school library, attempting to act in local plays or eco-warrioring her way towards the apocalypse.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Scott Cahan for Readers' Favorite

These days, young adult dystopian novels are a dime a dozen but Shrinking Sinking Land by Kell Cowley has taken the genre in a whole new direction that is both fascinating and fun. The story is set in Great Britain in the not-too-distant-future when violent weather patterns have become the enemy of mankind. The government is sending everyone underground for an enforced six-month hibernation while they do experiments on the atmosphere to get things back to normal. The plot focuses on a ragtag group of people who have no desire to go underground and are suspicious of the motives behind the enforced hibernation. The colorful cast of characters includes Dylan Moon, an internet revolution leader with only a handful of followers, and Flea, a girl from the lower class who is claustrophobic and is ready to fight off anyone who tries to force her to go underground with her trusty umbrella.

I absolutely adored this book. Shrinking Sinking Land has everything a great book should have. Its premise is original and creates a framework that puts our characters in constant suspense. The plot alone deserves a 5-star rating. It moves at a quick pace and never stays in one place for too long. It twists and turns in unexpected directions and kept me guessing right up until the last page. And then there are the characters. Author Kell Cowley has given us one of the most interesting ensemble cast of characters that I've ever read. If you couple that fact with the fast moving plot, you’ll begin to see the genius of this book. Shrinking Sinking Land doesn't slow down the story to tell us about the characters. We learn plenty about them as the action is unfolding and they interact with each other along the way. The characters all have unique personalities complete with back stories, strengths, weaknesses, and quirks. I can’t recommend this book for everyone because it does include some content issues, but I would heartily recommend it for anyone 16 years and up.

Kim Anisi

Felicity Wheeler, called Flea by everyone, is the protagonist of the YA dystopian novel Shrinking Sinking Land by Kell Cowley. She lives in a world where climate change has become extreme and the only way to solve it is to send all humans underground for the so-called Global Mandatory Hibernation, during which time the government plans to use weather technology to make the surface of the planet a safer place again. However, Flea and others do not want to go underground. Some didn’t have the means to buy a nice underground home and would face six months of working in the facilities just to earn rations. Others do not believe in the words of the government. Others like Dylan believe that the problem isn’t the weather but aliens who have the technology to turn the weather against humanity. When Flea’s and Dylan’s paths cross, a chain reaction of events is set in motion – and suddenly there are strange ships in the sky.

I found Shrinking Sinking Land by Kell Cowley to be a very interesting, exciting, and entertaining read. The author managed to create a plot in which humor, drama, and tragedy all find their own place on the pages without cancelling each other out. While reading, I wasn’t aware that this would be the first book in a series because it is a long book and often first books in a series are rather short. Only when I came closer to the end did I realize that there is so much more to tell – and the story has quite a way to go. Yet the first book ends on a note that leaves you fairly satisfied. I enjoyed the various characters, especially Clementine (some sort of cyborg cat). There are friendships, some light romance, some not so friendly relationships, and your usual bullies. The novel touches on many important topics, especially for younger readers who are in the process of discovering who they really are. It’s a fun read!

K.C. Finn

Shrinking Sinking Land is an excellent work of YA dystopian climate fiction by debut author Kell Cowley, and the first in a continuing series with Odd Voice Out Publishing. The central plot follows our hero Flea Wheeler, a mixed race girl born into a political decision she had no say in: the Geolution. Global Mandatory Hibernation is coming, and the population of Great Britain must take cover in underground shelters as climate change rocks the world with dangerous floods and terrifying storms. Flea braves the storms on a daily basis, a plucky outcast with little to lose, and the threat of being stuck underground terrifies her due to her intense claustrophobia. It’s only when she meets a group of eco-rebels still trying to dig out the real conspiracy behind the Geolution that Flea discovers there may be another way out.

What I adore most about Shrinking Sinking Land is the authenticity of Kell Cowley’s teenage protagonists. They speak with contemporary voices and realistic reactions, both amusing and heartbreaking as the plot expands. I love Flea’s defiance and her fighting spirit against impossible odds, and her fellow castmates fill out a diverse roster of disability, ethnicity and lgbtq personas that are fascinating and highly engrossing to read about. The plot too is enticing as the threat of the Geolution and hibernation hangs over each one of them, and I couldn't wait to grab the next chapter and keep unveiling the mysterious conspiracy that Flea and Dil are working towards. Overall, this is a superb debut novel sure to entertain and engross its audience. Five stars!