Review: The Ark by J Swift

  • On: 10th Dec 2022
  • Category: Reviews

The Ark by J Swift; originally published in 2014

The Ark is an interesting read – set in a dystopian, post-nuclear war Earth, the planet and its surviving inhabitants are in a pretty sorry state – with the world now just an inhospitable wasteland, and most plant and animal species extinct; the survivors make do with what little remains. The fortunate citizens live in complexes, relatively safe refuges built into and underneath the ruins of cities from before the war. The unfortunate eke out an existence in the wastelands, and beneath the complexes, as feral, possibly mutated creatures – only shadows of the people they were before.

With life on Earth no longer sustainable, humankind’s only option for survival is the Arks, a series of interstellar vessels capable of traversing the stars in search of a new home for humanity. Built one after the other, the latest Ark is nearing completion and due to set out for the heavens. For those fortunate enough to live in the complexes, there are still those who are unfortunate: a place on the Ark is not guaranteed – humanities best and brightest are the lucky ones, chosen for their knowledge and skills, but for everyone else, your only way aboard is via a lottery or to pass an aptitude test.

But not all is as it seems, as the characters grapple with the fact that the promise of the Arks may not be all that it is advertised to be. Sides are drawn and redrawn as misinformation & truth battle for the characters’ loyalties, and all the while, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

I enjoyed The Ark, listening to the audiobook version of the story. The book is well-written, and the audiobook was narrated well too. The tale maintains a steady pace throughout, which, whilst fast enough to maintain interest, felt too slow, which I thought was a detriment to the overall experience – a little bit of variance in the pacing, and a faster pace in general, would’ve helped to elevate the story.

Still, it tells an exciting story set in a fascinating world, with characters that feel real and a world that feels lived in. If anything, I wanted more, as the story felt a little short; whilst all the right ingredients were there, it felt a little undercooked – some additional worldbuilding and character development would’ve made the story that much richer.

Several twists at the end of the book were unexpected, catching me by surprise, and really helped make the story. It opens some interesting avenues for the two sequels, and I’m interested to read the rest of the trilogy and see where this story goes. I recommend reading The Ark and look forward to exploring more of Swift’s dystopian sci-fi world!

Cover for The Ark designed by MiblArt and used with permission from J Swift.

Background image by Casey Horner on Unsplash