The Carbon Diaries

PZ 7.L77874. PZ is Fiction and Juvenile Belles lettres, PZ(1)-(4) is Fiction in English.  The Carbon Diaries was a School Library Journal 2009 Best Book of the Year and the 2009 Grand Prize Winner of the Green Book Festival.

Series Title: Carbon Diaries
Author: Saci Lloyd
ISBN-10: 0823421902 ISBN-13: 978-0823421909
City and Publisher: New York: Holiday House
Copyright Date: 2008
Book Website: http://www.carbondiaries.com/home
Author’s Website: http://www.sacilloyd.com/index.htm

Reader’s Annotation: As severe storms and heat waves wreck havoc on the planet, England introduces mandatory carbon-use rationing in a last ditch attempt to counter climate change.  Laura Brown’s diary describes the utter chaos that ravages London and her 16 year old life.

Plot Summary: Laura Brown is 16, and lives in London in the year 2015.  Following the great storm, England has decided to be the first country to introduce mandatory carbon-use rationing.  Every citizen must limit their use of heat, fuel, and electricity, or be sent to Carbon Offenders Boot Camp.  Laura tries to live a normal life, playing in a punk band and quietly crushing on the boy next door, as the world goes up in flames around her.  Her family, her city, and the entire world are turned upside down in this near-future imagining of the effects of climate change.

Critical Evaluation: Long on observation and short on plot, The Carbon Diaries is a patchy but imaginative look at the potential for global havoc as a result of climate change.  Laura Brown is a fairly well written character.  She is somewhat self-absorbed and totally befuddled by the world around her.  Her voice is a little forced however; The Carbon Diaries feels a bit like a grown-up’s idea of a teen diary, rather than an actual teenager’s slang, concerns, and observations.  Much of the writing is devoted to Laura’s reports of events outside her personal scope.  The  story feels like a series of reports, rather than the development of a good plot.

Illustrations: Illustrated in a scrapbook style, The Carbon Diaries contains artifacts of Laura’s life meant to look as if they’d been pasted in to her diary.  In general, they are interesting and contribute more to the authenticity of the story than the actual text.  Some drawings feel like they are just taking up space, however.

Reading Level/Interest: 13 & up
Curriculum Ties: Climate change, social studies/societal behavior, geography and weather
Booktalking Ideas: Bring in items or representations of activities with carbon values assigned.  Ask which items students would be willing to give up and which items would be essential.

Genre: Science-Fiction, Dystopian, Near-Future

Challenge Issues: The Carbon Diaries depicts a world in chaos, with details of violence and rioting.  Laura’s parents are very self-absorbed, and Laura decides what to do and where to go without much input from them.

About the Author: Saci Lloyd has worked as a cartoonist, as a member of a straight edge band, and at a sixth form college.  She lives in London.  A sequel to The Carbon Diaries 2015 (entitled The Carbon Diaries 2017) was released in 2010.  More at: http://www.sacilloyd.com/about.htm

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