Get me a Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s Factory because this series was depressing af | Warmer by Amazon Original Stories

Fear and hope collide in this collection of possible tomorrows. What happens when boiling heat stokes family resentments; when a girl’s personal crisis trumps global catastrophe; or when two climate scientists decide to party like it’s the end of the world? Like the best sci-fi, these cli-fi stories offer up answers that are darkly funny, liberating, and all too conceivable. – Amazon

Content warnings:
crass language, sexual connotations, death (both human and animal), violence (domestic and otherwise), suicide, spiraling mental health, racism, classism, climate crisis

TL;DR: These 7 short stories center around the devastating effects of the climate crisis, and while each one ultimately convinces us that humans are Earth’s Mightiest Villains, the stories, overall, leave us mentally exhausted and more confused than we should be.

Before we get into the reviews, I want to put in a quick disclaimer: yes, all these photos are mine; yes, I took them all in the backyard; and yes, those are my fingers and awkward sliver of a wrist. I got bored of putting in the stock photos of the book covers, and because lord knows I need more vitamin D, I decided to traipse outside in 85+ degree weather to take these aesthetic-but-not-really shots. In other words, some sweat went into this blog post, so please enjoy.

Sleet in Mississippi? In March? A crazy ice storm lays waste to the South in a #1 New York Times bestselling author’s invigorating, touching story of one slippery night, an open bar, and total abandon.

For three strangers whose paths will cross, the storm hasn’t even reached its peak. Two of them are the kind of climate scientists no one ever listens to in disaster movies. The third, against even icier opposition, has just moved to the Magnolia State to come out. Soon they’ll all be pushed closer to the edge, where the bracing winds of cataclysmic change can be so wildly liberating. – Amazon

Content warnings:
crass language, sexual connotations

Okay, maybe I lied a little, because this first story actually quite humorous. The message is muddled, though, because it focuses both on coming out and the climate crisis. But according to one Amazon reviewer, Donna, this “juxtaposition of environmental issues and gay rights” is telling us that there are various important problems in the world – some of them affect us right now, and others affect us more in the future, and, in a way, it’s up to us to decide how to balance the two.

A mother’s latent fears rise as relentlessly as the Florida seas in a startling story of a planet, and an imagination, under pressure, by the New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Furies.

During an eco-friendly cleanup at the beach, Ange finds something horrifying in the brush. The sickening, heartbreaking evidence of an irreversibly changing earth triggers dread about the future for her daughter. But as reasoned worries slide into paranoia, reality itself begins to untether. For Ange, there may be no stepping back from the destructive darkness of her sleepless nights. – Amazon

Content warnings:
animal death, spiraling mental health

Boca Raton could have been decent if it weren’t for the random, hallucinations that our MC, Ange, suffers from. I understand them: Ange sees a horrific effect of our treatment of the world, and she spirals from there. BUT. The hallucinations just…made the story a little silly for me since I could no longer trust Ange as the narrator. I did enjoy seeing the relationship between the mother and daughter, and the hopelessness that can come from raising a child in such a climate (pun very much intended).

What happens when temperatures flare between a mother and son? A few degrees make all the difference in this New York Times bestselling author’s blazingly chilling story of psychological terror.

It’s the hottest winter on record, but Raymond’s demanding, bedridden mother doesn’t mind. She likes it warm. Lately, however, control over the thermostat has become a nasty struggle. And each morning that she’s still alive is a suffocating new challenge for Raymond. How high can the mercury climb before he boils over? – Amazon

Content warnings:
domestic violence

And the Mother of the Year Award goes to…NOT Ma because she is a biatch. Seriously. The fact that Raymond had held on to his sanity as long as he had is surprising. With that said, I clutched my metaphorical pearls when that happened. In short, the most tension and stakes are in this story. Alas, the timeline is wonky (everything happens on the same day and time…), the climate crisis is more of the backdrop of this toxic mother-son relationship, and the ending is confusing.

In a climate-ravaged future, it’s not easy to grow up. One girl is trying her best in a story about global catastrophe and personal chaos, by the New York Times bestselling author of California.

Thirteen-year-old Vic is of the Youngest Generation, fixed in prepubescence after a catastrophic environmental degradation. She’s also her father’s favorite student. But when he takes his own life, the perennially ingenuous Vic wants to understand why. As she sets out on her quest, Vic begins to learn that family isn’t something you’re born with—it’s something you build. – Amazon

Content warnings:

As the blurb says, Vic will forever stay a child due to the devastating effects of climate change that have brought about food scarcity, water allotment, and miles of wasteland. Yeah. Depressing. Because of this, though, if you want a story that hits the nail on the head for the tangible effects of climate crisis, read this one. I will say, though, that this conflict gets kind of shunted off to the side when another conflict comes into the picture that has personally left me sighing out loud.

A North Carolina combat vet finds himself far from home on the front lines of an environmental battle to save the planet in an award-winning author’s provocative story of a twenty-first-century Wild West.

Joel Dunbar, the last branch of an Appalachian family tree, accepts a mysterious invitation from a billionaire plutocrat to attend a conservation expo in San Francisco. The rock star environmentalist has startling plans for the future and a caveat for Joel: don’t ask too many questions, and don’t divulge any answers. But when Joel befriends a rebellious eco-friendly Arizona rancher, he’s roped into a new kind of war, with new kinds of casualties. – Amazon

Content warnings:
human death, billionaires (lol)

The setting is dope. Though, maybe I’m just dumb, because this story made me scratch my head because the message is rather low-key. One Amazon reviewer, Mindo’ermatter, states that that this story “mocks those well-known climate advocates making lots of fame and fortune while their disingenuous promotions divert the world’s attention away from serious innovation and needed change.” Wow. Truly a powerful message – I just wished it had been more obvious. And what the hell is that final scene?

A girl growing up in Cape Cod explores the collectible debris of a once-perfect world she’s too young to remember. But as the past resurfaces, so do old questions about her place in society.

To Chinese American teenager Chuntao, New Lake is a beautiful haven where she can hunt for treasures once swallowed up by a big flood. But when she’s caught scavenging by her biology teacher, a woman whose own past has been swept away, Chuntao is faced with an imponderable question: Which world was better—the ideal one she never knew or the destroyed one that now belongs to her?

Content warnings:
racism, classism/poverty

The sixth book in this collection, and *wipes forehead* – we got a winner, folks! This story is good. I greatly enjoyed the subtle suggestions of how race and class can play into the climate crisis. Chuntao is Chinese and poor, and her classmates treat her just differently enough. Her teacher, though, is the big bad wolf because due to her preconceived notions, she singles out Chuntao; thankfully, Chuntao isn’t one to mess with, and we love strong bad biatches.

After bringing Earth to ruin, the age of humans is over. It is a blessing for some in this tender and tragic cautionary fable from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Thousand Acres.

Now the Congress of Animals is in control, unforgiving, and debating the fate of the planet’s most reviled species. The popular ruling: exterminate humankind without exception. But a curious mare, coming of age, is making a case for a seemingly gentle person she longs to save—a wish for mercy that could once again unbalance the new and righteous nature of the world. – Amazon

Content warnings:
violence, human death

I freaking love horses (seriously, have you seen an Icelandic horse?) So, I should have loved this story because our MC is an actual horse. Sadly, the horses weren’t enough for me to like this story because first, the message is way too on-the-nose, it kind of lost meaning, and second, I didn’t really understand our MC, High Point’s, motivations into befriending the human. And while the plot itself is zany (zany is my jam), the message just made it zany without much substance.

And there you have it. Read The Way The World Ends, There’s No Place Like Home, and At the Bottom of New Lake for great writing. Read At the Bottom of New Lake for something remotely worth your time…

Or, read this collection for a wake-up call to the climate change happening around us. But if you’re looking for solutions to help, these stories may not be the ones to offer them because while they make us question, they also make us want to eat candy for dinner and get that sugar high so we can forget about the hopelessness of the future.

Read (entire collection): 08/13/22 – 08/20/22

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