The Death of Grass (Sphere Popular Classics) - John Christopher This was a little bit of a slow starter but once I could see where things were heading every sentence was laden with a sense of dread and impending doom.

A widow leaves a dreary London behind and returns to her girlhood home along with her sons. She is anxious to reunite and repair her strained relationship with her dad and share the joy of a hillside surrounded by lush green pasture with her boys.

25 years later John has taken to life in the city and fathered two children; David has devoted his life to the farm and remained a bachelor. All seems idyllic but then they start speaking of the rabbit plagues in Australia and a virus attacking rice crops in Hong Kong and millions starving and resorting to cannibalism. When David removes a patch of pesky rice grass and discovers it is diseased things start to take on bleak outlook and he tells John to return to the farm before things get desperate. John returns to his life in the city unwisely waiting far too long as things begin to take a turn towards the bleak.

Thus begins a nicely detailed onset of the apocalypse and a tale of greed, morality and the breakdown of civilization. The most disturbing thing about this story was just how quickly the darker instincts bubbled to the surface of the characters when they were faced with their own mortality and forced to protect those they loved.

This book focuses strongly on the breakdown of society and it is effectively chilling in its portrayal of the desperation for all involved. It truly is survival of the fittest and gets pretty brutal, pretty quickly. Our stubborn city boy is now on a road trip through hell with his young family and some friends, picking up guns and stragglers to strengthen their numbers and attempt to find safe haven. But, really, will anywhere be safe?

This was very disturbing read considering the background for this apocalypse, that it affects major food systems and that when the story takes place half the food consumed was imported from other countries. It would be so simple to have a food breakdown nowadays. How many of us are even somewhat self-sufficient? Where would we begin?

Some of the most blood chilling quotes for me:

“Things will be hard, but it may not be a bad life. It will be up to us what we make of it. At least, we shall be our masters. It will no longer be a matter of living on the sufferance of a State that cheats and bullies and swindles its citizens and, at last, when they become a burden, murders them.”

“The country’s food position is desperate. No more grain, meat, foodstuffs of any kind, are being sent from overseas. We have nothing to eat but what we can grow out of our own soil, or fish from our own coasts.”

Shudder, I don’t want to ponder on this too long when I should be building my chicken coop out back!