The Wall by John Lanchester is about a young man named Joseph Kavanaugh who is set out to work on... the Wall. Most people have few options for this dystopian future, and since Kavanaugh wears glasses he feels that his options are limited. The world is a dim and very cold place, and the wall seems to be protecting an island surrounded by water due to climate change. While on the wall the job of the "defenders" is to keep "the others" from getting over the wall. If some of the others do make it over then the defenders are sent out to live as the others were.
There are a lot of interesting and thought -provoking ideas in this novel, however it lacks a little in character development and actual story development. What the reader is given is that the wall is not a place anyone wants to be, and that the world is a very cold place. The reader doesn't get to know much about the characters themselves, even the main character Kavanaugh. The reader gets insight a little into his family life, he doesn't get along with his parents because they feel guilt over what has happened and the life they have created for their children and grandchildren. He doesn't like going home and is seeking another way so he doesn't have to, yet that is basically all we know about him. Even as the main character, when circumstances are dire for him and his love interest, we don't see him step out and do anything or think anything that might make him someone in our eyes.
Most of the characters are treated this way, even the Captain, who was once an other and is now a defender on the wall. It would have been interesting to get a little backstory into him and how he went from being an other to being a Captain on the wall. Yet, once again, where there could have been added information we get almost a two dimensional character who adds nothing to the story but one moment of lies and betrayal. There could have been much more added to the characters, for in one instance a character dies, and I can't remember where we saw the character, what they looked like, or what they had added to the story.
The idea is very much like what you you think of when you thought of the movie Waterworld. A lifetime spent on water looking for suitable land to live on, and upset when you find land, but it isn't suitable to live on or attach oneself to. There have been many tales of climate change creating a different face to the land structures of the world, and while it is intriguing it just wasn't built as as a strong story. There is nothing in this story that makes it stand out from others, as it is almost an amalgamation of several different dystopian novels. There are the "Breeders" who pop out children for a comfortable live. There is the "Help" who are others who have made it over the wall but are still looked at as nonhuman. There are the "defenders" those who do a job because someone has to. And then there is reference to people who disagree with the way all of this is run, and yet we don't get to see but one of them throughout the entire book.
While this isn't a bad book, and it is a fast read, it wasn't as fully developed as it could have been, and like the bottom of an ice cream cone, it left me wanting more.