Eve by Una
The world seems to grow more fractured and dangerous by the day. Plague, war…which horseman of the apocalypse will ride over the horizon next? Ah, looks like hunger.
Eve deals with a young woman born during the pandemic and growing up in the world as it may unfold in the next few years, as it is beginning to unfold now. The fragile global consensus to tackle climate change has fractured under the weight of a pandemic created economic crisis (you could add a security crisis, but it seems any reason will do for our leaders.)
The people are unhappy, but their anger does not translate to some glorious storming of the Winter Palace. Instead it is submerged under an online swamp that pits groups against each other and lets the real villains escape. It swallows our society like the rising sea level swallows the land.
Government sponsored youth groups are promoted in schools and to give the growing ranks of unemployed youth something to occupy their energy. A bit like the scouts but themed with cloudy names and drizzle-grey colours, fitting for the ‘rainy fascist island’.
Colour is used intelligently in Eve – to tie in with the themes of climate change and authoritarianism but also to delineate memory and imagination, city and countryside, despair and hope. Little flairs of brightness in a world that is increasingly monochromatic. The red of Ruby’s hair, the green baize of a pool table, the yellow of a camper van, the blue baseball caps of the government youth group Arcus AIM.
There are some interesting and innovative choices in the art. We see topographical maps and building floor plans used. Emblematic creatures like swallows, crows and snakes appear throughout the book. Some pages are plain soft pencils, others are fully coloured.
I love some of the sound effects too. The rattle and hiss of a spray can is heard. We never see who the artist is but we see various graffiti of different political persuasions and none.
Eve’s family are good people. They care about their community, they do their best to help out their neighbours. Eve’s dad is a former refugee and knows about the value of solidarity. But their attempt to build a personal liferaft of decency in a sea of hatred is doomed. Their world becomes a pastoral dystopia battered by the elements and the forces of political reaction.
Only the hills offer a sanctuary. And in those hills former friends and even ideological enemies have a chance for reconciliation. One of the key themes of Eve is the search for our essential humanity, the small, bright sparks of hope and community that offer us redemption even in the darkest times.
Eve is not exactly an escapist book, but it is a thoughtful examination of the paths our society could take. It deserves a wide readership.
Eve is published by Virago and is available now.