Books

Ava Anna Ada by Ali Millar review – the apocalyptic age of anxiety

This debut novel creates an air of dread with its apocalyptic backdrop, while human dramas persist in the forefront

Ava Anna Ada by Ali Millar cover

At a time when we are constantly living through unprecedented times, we have for better or worse begun to accept the unprecedented precedent. The constant churn of grind culture invites us to be distracted by our day to day, ignoring the bigger picture. This is something we have in common with the two
narrators of Ali Millar’s Ava Anna Ada.

The debut novel begins after a mysterious Earth-shaking event, and the fringes of its setting are littered with The Watchers, who have dedicated their lives to waiting for the next natural disaster. But Ava and Anna are more concerned with their own miserable lives. 

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Through the neurotic stream of consciousness that flits from Ava to Anna and back again we learn of their vulnerability and a shared loss that informs a growing curiosity with one another. It is a book that’s filled with many mysteries to intrigue the reader, from ecological to personal, but at its core is concerned with growing obsession.

Ava Anna Ada is a poetic addition to the dystopian novel, brimming with the violent imaginings of its protagonists and the hum of anxiety that fills each page. Millar’s book creates an air of dread with its apocalyptic backdrop, while human dramas persist in the forefront.

Ava Anna Ada by Ali Millar cover

Billie Walker is a freelance journalist.

Ava Anna Ada by Ali Millar is out on 18 January (Orion, £18.99). You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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