Dreamland by Rosa Rankin-Gee

Published: 2021 1. First lines: “Today I watched a man walk into the sea.” 2. Cover: Simon and Schuster 3. Waves Breaking on a Lee Shore by J. M. Turner [Public Domain] via Wikimedia 4. Concrete walls [Public Domain] via Pxfuel 5. Woman child silhouette [Public Domain] via Wallpaper Flare

Set in the future of rising sea levels and social inequality, Chance and her family – mother, Jaz and brother, JD – move from London to Margate using a government cash incentive. Margate has very few opportunities for the family which makes it almost impossible for the family to survive. They do what they can but their future is uncertain, and government policies prevent them from leaving. Chance falls in love with Frankie, who has moved from London with a charity group, but as Chance finds out more about the group, and Frankie’s family, she begins to distrust everything about her relationship with Frankie. Then something happens that makes her realize she has to find her way back to London.

“We’re going to be an island again.”

Glanceabook: I loved everything about this book. Mostly, though, it was how the main character, Chance’s innocence as a young girl changed as she grew up, and how I really liked her anyway. The book made me feel sad and even devastated at times, but despite the harrowing scenes and events in the story, I felt hopeful for Chance’s future. The relationships Chance has with both Davey (a childhood friend) and Frankie (her first love) provided a joyful element among dark themes of violence.

  • The Guardian: “A former Londoner and her family fight for survival in the seaside town of the future in a sparkling apocalyptic novel … When things become grim – and they really do – there is room for macabre humour as well as the tiniest flicker of hope. Rankin-Gee is far too strong a writer for her priority to be anything but the story and yet it’s one with a hyper-alert social conscience.”
  • New Humanist: “The filmic quality of the devastated landscape which Rankin-Gee portrays, from the “the broken spines of old rides at Dreamland” to the roll of barbed wire that “caught the light, in jagged flashes, in the water”, is hard to shake. Dreamland offers a startling vision of our future and a salutary warning against that ticking time bomb waiting to explode.”


“I remember watching you wake up, your eyes adjusting to the light, adjusting to seeing me. And I remember wondering if you were scared of me, if you liked me really, if I would ever see you again, if you loved me maybe, a million ifs crowded into a split second.”

“After not long at all, the sea started creeping towards us. I wanted it to slow down. You sat with your arms around your legs. I looked out. The waves getting darker on their way in. They kind of looked like liquid rock, the way flint cracks in flat angles.

Floor after floor of concrete zigzag that changed as you walked around it. Coloured curtains that stayed shut all through the day. A faded blue-and-stars Europe flag left behind in one window. A Jenga frame of concrete car park at the back.”

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