Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Follow Jake Krimmer on his path of enlightenment, guided by Rita Ten Grieve, in The Eleventh Grieve, a climate fiction novel.
The Eleventh Grieve by Garth Hallberg
The novel fits the climate fiction genre, with the didactic aspect prevailing over the technical literary aspect. The story is predictable, with character development stalling as it progresses.
The narrative voice shines when explaining Jake’s work and Samantha’s meteorology, but falls short in other aspects, like character relationships and the ending.
Despite its shortcomings, “The Eleventh Grieve” offers an interesting look into the consequences of climate change and the complexities of human relationships.
The Eleventh Grieve, by Garth Hallberg, is set in the third decade of the 21st century. The story revolves around Jake Krimmer, a daring financial speculator making a fortune from climate change-related disasters by trading electricity with power companies.
His secret edge over his competitors is Samantha, his on-again, off-again girlfriend and skilled meteorologist, who is growing increasingly uneasy about the damaging effects of climate change and the ethical implications of profiting from it.
Just as Jake is about to recognize that Samantha is the one for him, she is ready to start a new life.
Here is when a mysterious character, Rita Ten Grieve, appears. She introduces Jake to her advanced Nimbus technology, which reveals the grim truth of climate change and its consequences.
Through ten grieves, Rita takes Jake through time, teaching him about the past and a potential future and inspiring him to change his ways to reclaim Samantha’s love. The Eleventh Grieve is a novel that fits into the climate fiction genre.
As often happens in this type of novel, the didactic aspect prevails over the technical literary aspect, leading to a predictable story. Most of the book is devoted to exposition rather than the narration of the actions.
The novel’s beginning is good, especially the first chapter, in which the narrative voice introduces us to Jake Krimmer, his profession, and some of his quirks, motivating us to keep reading. We also meet but do not get to know yet Rita Ten Grieve, who causes Jake to have allusions to climate change.
However, as the novel progresses, the character development stops. As a result, we end up with characters with little complexity, clear motivations, and low stakes.
The device of the grieves that uses the narrative voice to make Jake finally believe in the existence of climate change makes the story predictable, and the episodes that the narrative voice chooses to convince Jake to lose novelty early on.
One aspect of the story in which the narrative voice is most comfortable is when it explains specific aspects of Jake’s work. Thus, the exposition of the Financial Transmission Rights, or FTR, with which Jake makes money, is clear, engaging, and entertaining. The same is true of Samantha’s work as a meteorologist.
However, there are three aspects of the narrative that fall short. One is the relationship between Jake and his best friend, Jared Mortenson. As the story progresses, Jared’s character gradually weakens. There is an attempt to give him villain elements, but he fails.
Another is the relationship between Jake and Timmy, Samantha’s six-year-old son. One of the reasons Jake doesn’t decide to establish a formal relationship with Samantha is because of Timmy.
Eventually, the relationship between the two characters only evolves naturally from the characters’ needs but from the organization of the plot.
The last one is the Epilogue. Indeed, the resolution of all the subplots contributes to the main plot, which works well. However, the novel’s denouement is a full-fledged, even forced, happy ending.
Despite its shortcomings, The Eleventh Grieve offers an exciting look into climate change’s consequences and human relationships’ complexities.