The Grasshopper's Child

"The Grasshopper's Child, like Cuarón's Children of Men, shows a light yet sure hand in depicting near-future dystopia. . . . Sentences like "...a stealthy humble weight settling beside her..." are inexpressibly vivid and moving."
Athena Andreadis, (The Other Half Of The Sky; Starship Reckless)

"As ever with Gwyneth Jones, the writing is a joy to read: beautiful, vivid and tactile, as here: 'red velvet curtains, worn to rust in the folds, silently coughed out dust when she touched them...' I can almost taste that acrid dust in my throat. With ghosts, with technological wizardry, with mystery, modern pirates and murder, and references to The Secret Garden as well as many a children’s adventure story (secret tunnels, anyone?) The Grasshopper’s Child is a feast. . . more
Kath Langrish, Seven Miles Of Steel Thistles

". . combines the satisfying unmasking closure of a good Scooby-Doo episode with Gwyneth Jones' fiery rage against the Establishment and its occult workings.
But be prepared: like Heidi, you will want to go back and learn your history as well as explore this gorgeous secret garden of a book. . . .

So Mayer (in forbooksake)


"Set in the same post-utopian world as her Bold as Love series, Gwyneth Jones' The Grasshopper's Child is a novel for young adults where the whole concept of young adulthood seems like self-deceptive indulgence for a dying culture clinging to a myth of innocence. In Chinese occupied post-dissolution Britain, Heidi Ryan and her friends are Indentured Teens, too damaged for the Agricultural Camps, slave labour for the sick and elderly and prey for Russian Recruiters - gangs who kidnap teens for hard labour slavery. As Heidi tells us 'We're older at fifteen than we would have been if this was, I don't know, the year 2000. Because everything's changed'.
When everything changed, Sage, Ax and Fiorinda were the stone age celebrities of Dissolution Summer and figureheads for a brave new Britain. Here they make appearances as watchful representatives of Emperor Li Xifeng's benign dictatorship. Fiorinda may be the most famous singer in the world but she, like everyone, works for the Chinese. The Insanitude (Buckingham Palace, gleefully squatted in Bold as Love and turned into the best music venue ever) now hosts the People's Young Artist final, bi-location tech is now commonplace but Heidi carries all her worldly possessions in a purple suitcase and cares for her 'elders' in a cold house which, like the cold house of Fiorinda's initiation into her father's dark world, is haunted by historic child abuse.
Jones' skill is in world-building by inference and suggestion rather than lengthy description. Ghosts of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden flit through the narrative. Indeed, Heidi and Clancy's secret project is the restoration of a garden with all that it implies for renewed beginnings. The pragmatic and independent teens of The Grasshopper's Child impart salutary lessons in love, survival and resourcefulness in a world where austerity is real, money is meaningless but the newly minted hippie bourgeoisie still rule by corruption and deceit. The Grasshopper's Child is politically engaged fantasy for adults: young, old or otherwise."
Debra Benita Shaw
Reader in Cultural Theory/Programme Leader, University of East London

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