Creepy and atmospheric, evocative of Stephen King’s classic Pet Sematary, The Migration is a story of sisterhood, transformation, and the limitations of love, from a thrilling new voice in Canadian fiction.
When I was younger I didn’t know a thing about death. I thought it meant stillness, a body gone limp. A marionette with its strings cut. Death was like a long vacation – a going away.
Storms and flooding are worsening around the world, and a mysterious immune disorder has begun to afflict the young. Sophie Perella is about to begin her senior year of high school in Toronto when her little sister, Kira, is diagnosed. Their parents’ marriage falters under the strain, and Sophie’s mother takes the girls to Oxford, England, to live with their Aunt Irene. An Oxford University professor and historical epidemiologist obsessed with relics of the Black Death, Irene works with a centre that specializes in treating people with the illness. She is a friend to Sophie, and offers a window into a strange and ancient history of human plague and recovery. Sophie just wants to understand what’s happening now; but as mortality rates climb, and reports emerge of bodily tremors in the deceased, it becomes clear there is nothing normal about this condition – and that the dead aren’t staying dead. When Kira succumbs, Sophie faces an unimaginable choice: let go of the sister she knows, or take action to embrace something terrifying and new.
Tender and chilling, unsettling and hopeful, The Migration is a story of a young woman’s dawning awareness of mortality and the power of the human heart to thrive in cataclysmic circumstances.
I jumped at the chance to request this book when others described it as a ‘coming-of-age apocalyptic horror’. I agree with two of those three descriptions, I wouldn’t quite say this is a horror novel.
We follow the story of Sophie and her younger sister Kira who contracts the mysterious J12 disease afflicting young adults worldwide. Our main characters move from Canada to England where the majority of the story unfolds.
I found the pacing to be a little inconsistent and for me there was little detail when it was required and perhaps too much when it wasn’t. A lot of time is spent on tenuous links to historical plagues and possible previous occurrences where I would have preferred to see other characters current predicaments.
However, around the halfway point I became fully engrossed in the plight of Sophie and Kira.
With climate change being our worlds biggest threat it was both interesting and sobering to see the various ways mankind responded to the events imagined in The Migration.
You can easily picture a world divided by opinion on how best to deal with the unknown. Both desperation and nihilism of the community around Sophie builds rapidly against a backdrop of natural disaster that dials up the dread as the book goes on.
I would have liked to read more about the flooding and storms ravaging the country. The destruction of my own home was mentioned in a passing sentence which made it a little more difficult to accept as just background noise.
The true nature of the J12 is revealed very slowly and portrayed a ‘them vs us’ feeling between the young afflicted and the rest of the world.
It’s difficult to describe without spoilers, but I found myself pleased for the new generation and the hope they embodied for civilization.
Whilst their reactions were believable, I still found myself disappointed with the parents in this story, their choices and interactions. I’d have liked to see them try a little harder for their children, but when considering this a YA novel it does touch perfectly upon the usual adolescent forced to forge their own future.
I loved the bond between the two sisters, and between Sophie and her peers. There’s something endearing about the quick trust and selfless behaviour between teen aged friends that I always enjoy. I could take or leave the romantic subplot though, it felt only like a device to further the maturity of the MC.
The plot of The Migration is a surprising one, not at all what I had expected from the blurb and book cover. The thread of hope woven through a collapsing world was uplifting and heartbreaking all at once.
Read this for an entirely new take on the end of the world!
I received a copy of The Migration from Titan Books in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.