“Camp Zero” by Michelle Min Sterling, the April 2023 Read With Jenna pick, is set in the near future in which climate change has ravaged the environment and a secret camp is being built in a remote part of Canada.
The novel weaves together three storylines, offering different perspectives of life around the new settlement. There’s Rose, a young woman who is secretly sent to infiltrate the camp and monitor the project’s architect. There’s the mysterious elite all-woman soldiers at a nearby survivalist camp. And there’s also Grant, a professor who’s fleeing both his family’s legacy and heartbreak.
“You’ve never been anywhere like the world Michelle created,” Jenna tells TODAY. “That’s one of the things I love about reading. It’ll take you to places you’ve never traveled.”
And once you depart Sterling’s unlikely setting, you may long to be transported into another. Here are five books to add to your to-be-read list after “Camp Zero," according to its author. Jenna's pick? "Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel.
"Ducks" by Kate Beaton
Speaking to TODAY.com, Sterling says her novel was inspired by a trip to Canada's oil fields, remote and cold. "Ducks" is set in this landscape.
After graduating from university, Canadian Katie Beaton travels west to seek employment and take advantage of Alberta’s oil rush in the hopes of paying off her student loans. When she arrives in Fort McMurray, she begins working high risk shifts in the camps owned by the world’s largest oil companies. But her job in the oil boomtown isn’t the only danger she faces, as one of the few women, she’s subjected to routine sexual harassment. Seeking higher pay, she moves to a spartan, isolated worksite where she continues to confront life in the oil sands including coming to terms with the effects of the oil companies.
"Parable of the Sower" by Octavia Butler
For thought-provoking non-fiction, it's always a good idea to turn to Octavia Butler. It’s the year 2025, and Lauren Olamina and her family reside in one of the only remaining safe neighborhoods remaining outside Los Angeles. Lauren’s father, a preacher, along with other residents, travel beyond their enclave in an attempt to save what’s left of a culture destroyed by drugs, disease, war and chronic water shortages. But when her father is killed and a fire destroys the community, Lauren is forced to travel north to safety. During this journey, she comes up with a revolutionary idea that may just mean salvation for all of mankind.
"Severance" by Ling Ma
When a strange plague spreads throughout New York City, families begin fleeing and companies start halting operations. Candace Chen doesn't get sick — and she doesn't leave. Soon, she finds herself all alone. She sets out to photograph the eerie remains of the abandoned city as an anonymous blogger: NY Ghost. Candace encounters a group of fellow survivors led by Bob, an IT tech, who are making their way to a place known as the Facility. Bob claims this is an opportunity for them to start over but Candace has a secret she knows Bob will exploit.
"The Memory Police" by Yōko Ogawa
First, it’s hats. Then, it’s ribbons. And even birds. All of these things begin disappearing from an unnamed island off an unnamed coast. And most of the island’s residents are not aware of the things vanishing. But those that do remember live in fear of the Memory Police, who are tasked with ensuring what disappears is forgotten. When a young writer finds out her editor is in danger from this group, she creates a plan to hide him underneath her floorboards. And they pour themselves into her writing as an attempt to preserve the past.
"Moon of the Crusted Snow" by Waubgeshig Rice
Panic ensues when a small northern Anishinaabe community begins losing its food supply as winter approaches. With this comes an unexpected visitor, or two, who are escaping a crumbling society to the south. As the death toll is rising from hunger and sickness, community leaders see their power weaken and the visitors begin to assume control. As chaos erupts, a group of young friends and their families hope to restore their community and turn to the land and rich Anishinaabe tradition in the process.