Grace Agnew’s debut dystopian novel analyzes a concept at the very core of modern life, highlighting the results of a neglected climate crisis. In the post-Anthropocene, Agnew creates a cli-fi world that examines the aspects of a past life we as a collective people wish to maintain and the aspects we are forced to realize no longer work in a new state of the Earth.

In a world of simulation and simplicity inside the city walls of a completely fabricated reality after the state of the world has fallen into disarray from resource depletion and climate disaster, Alex challenges the trajectory of his life within this sculpted certainty. Sanctuary houses all persons who wish to continue living in a reality accustomed to the likeness of life before the dishevelment of humanity. Everyone has their role, their comfort, their future completely lined up for them, but Alex has his heart set on finding more meaning to life and also finding a father who waits for him beyond the secure walls of the city he has always known. In this dual perspective, we follow both Alex and his mother Miranda on their journey into the unknown, while bringing them both closer to a more purposeful existence.

The book exposes contemporary, consumeristic values as fleeting and temporary in a façade to create denial and disillusion to the happenings of the natural world around us and how we have manipulated and destroyed what has been so graciously offered to us. Sanctuary boldens the idea of the Earth in a state of healing when left to her own devices; far from the industry and hand of mankind and how humans can search for a type of redemption after the turmoil, they have caused. It coaxes us to analyze our place in the world and the steps we must take to both exist consciously and purposively with the time we have been given.