The New Wilderness – Diane Cook

The New Wilderness

The New Wilderness (2020)

Author – Diane Cook

Genre – Dystopian Fiction

Pages – 416 pages

Rating – 4/5

Far in the future, Agnes, a 5 year old is wasting away in the City. The pollution barely allows anyone to live peacefully and more children are taken ill every single day.

When opportunity arises for Bea and Glen and their daughter Agnes to be a part of an experiment to study the interaction of humans with nature, they grab at it and begin their lives in the pristine Wilderness along with other 17 volunteers.

They soon find that the life of hunter-gatherer nomads is much more different than they imagined. Constantly supervised and often ordered around by the Rangers, the group find themselves battling with loss, frustration, power, politics and manipulation.


At the core of the book is the relationship between Bea and Agnes. Agnes, who has practically grown up in the Wilderness finds herself drifting farther and farther from her mother. Mother and daughter don’t see eye to eye and Agnes begins to feel abandoned as Bea tries to establish her position in the group.

The New Wilderness

The book constantly navigates through different relationships and the dynamics and clashes between personalities as time passes away in the Wilderness. Glen, though the man behind the experiment finds himself sidelined and unable to exert influence while Carl, determined to survive and hold on to whatever control that he can, takes over.

One of the most interesting aspects of the story was the look into creation of divide, leadership and power in a group left to essentially govern itself.

Over time the group realizes they are not the only ones in the Wilderness and people running away from the City somehow find their way into the land which really makes one wonder if in such a dystopian state, would it be possible to retain any land in its true form.


Even though the look into Bea and Agnes’s relationship was interesting and gave much needed meaning to the story, I could not fully understand its presence in a story which was focused more on the relationship of man and nature and to some extend, the effects of climate change.

The New Wilderness has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2020 and is a relevant look into the negative effects of ‘development’ running rampant.

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