The Death of Grass by John Christopher
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 8th October 2014

The Death of Grass

Author: John Christopher

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi

The Death of Grass is a survival story, testing the limits of resolve, ethics and even family. Beginning as an apocalypse story as a virus, known as Chung-Li infects and begins killing off all types of grass; first in Asia and then spreading to Europe. Chung-Li destroys crops across the world and famine ensues.

The global view sets the scene, however as governments fall and society begins to break down, the story begins to strictly focus on its central character, John Custance. Desperate, he tries to lead his family (and his wider group) across the countryside, north of London to his brothers isolated farm.

Suddenly the reasons which brought about the catastrophe are forgotten and only the search for safety is of priority. John slowly begins to change, page by page, from the comfortable, sensible, father, husband and engineer, into the confident, driven and focused leader; willing and able to do whatever it takes to lead the group to safety. He tells himself that once there, all will return to normal.

In contrast, other characters, such as John's friend Roger, who initially are willing to think of their own interests first, find that the reality is not so black and white. The deadly Pierre on the other hand is militaristic and bred solely for the end of the world; killing with a twisted logic and justification, without remorse. Ultimately, he is the most useful person for John's cause.

Soon enough, even family becomes a burden on the weight of survival and only the final goal matters to John.rnrnChristopher's narrative is haunting and in today's world (where crops are being diseased and genetically modified) almost predictive. It stirs the pot as it moves, from danger to increased danger until the inevitable conundrum where survival means sacrifice and John must make one final hard decision. In the end, horrifically, he is able to, quite easily.
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