Mad Melbourne

Genre: Dystopian Fiction

Author: Meg Mundell

Publisher: Scribe

Year: 2011

RRP: $27.95

If the end of the world is coming I do kind of hope it’s being narrated by one of Meg Mundell’s characters. Because she’s just so darn good at writing them.

Luckily for me then her debut novel Black Glass is in this vein of thought, as she tackles what one of the hardest genres there is- dystopian fiction.

The challenge in the dystopian is in it’s need to be similar enough to now to be recognizable as our society, but different enough render an eerie warning. Even more of a challenge is to shake off the ghosts of the past- and what an infamous bunch they are. It’s almost impossible to read a dystopian novel without the words ‘Orwell-esque’ or ‘Brave New World’ cropping up from time to time which is a fairly daunting prospect for literary newbies.

That being said, it has been done since the great doomsayers of the dystopian hey day: Ishiguro, and Atwood are just a few of the more recent novellers to note. And it’s this kind of promise that is juicy enough to make’s Mundell’s latest venture just so exciting.

The playground of Mundell’s choice is the bleak Melbourne of the future- or perhaps a Melbourne of a parallel universe, looked at through black glass rather than rose-coloured. Two sisters, Tally and Grace are separated, and go to the dark city in order to find each other again. But it’s a Melbourne that we’ve never seen before: inherently dangerous, linked by a series of underground tunnels and run by a new world order.

For a genre so overdone and so difficult to pave new ground in, Mundell’s novel is fresh, dark and inherently beautiful, with interesting characters and a meaty plotline. And like all good dystopian fiction its full of meaning for our society, this time one that is uniquely Australian. But that part of it, finding the message, I’ll leave that up to you.

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