Book Review: John Lanchester – The Wall

A few months ago I was in our local branch of Waterstones looking for a book by Alex Hannold called Alone on the Wall (read my review here). The very helpful assistant thought that I had asked for The Wall by John Lanchester. Intrigued by the wrong book I had a look at some reviews and decided to give it a go. I’m very glad that I did.


It’s set in a dystopian future, very 1984, where there has been some cataclysmic climate change event, resulting in huge sea level rises, mass migration and a complete lack of beaches around the UK. The future in the book is like some kind of nightmare Brexit scenario designed by Farage and the Daily Mail. To keep out migrants from Europe and beyond which have become uninhabitable, a huge wall around the whole coast of the UK has been built. Added to this, every person once they reach 18 have to spend two years on the wall defending it. This causes great resentment between the younger generation, who are not responsible for the mess the world is in, and the older generation, who are responsible, but don’t have to live with their actions. Much like climate change or Brexit. On top of this, if someone successfully gets over the wall in the section that you are supposed to be defending, you get turfed out.

What actually caused the UK to become so insular is never explained, or how the wall came to be built, but I do hope that John Lanchester is busy writing a sequel. This book would be good for the Manchester post apocalypse book club to read.

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