3 out of 4 stars
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The First President of Earth by John J. Mellor provides a chilling look into the not so distant future where climate change has ravished the planet. However, there is a committee that has decided to take matters into their own hands. Founded by some of the richest individuals in the world, the committee hands the fate of the world into the hands of the President of the United States. He, through the use of the Star Wars weapon, which is a system of satellites that can shoot down and destroy any target, renames himself the President of the Earth. He tells the world that everyone will move to the desert, and the fertile land will be used to plant trees. There is a major backlash to this announcement. The book captures this by jumping around to different characters to highlight the differing reactions to the new state of the world.
I think the shifting narrative was very impactful and helped highlight the impact of such a statement. However, it was a double-edged sword in the sense that it made character development limited. Mellor tried to tell so many characters' stories that most of them were not given the attention they deserved. This caused the characters to feel static, and it made the narrative a bit confusing at times because the point of view changed so many times. This was the part I disliked the most. I feel like the book would have been stronger if Mellor had chosen to focus on fewer characters and spent more time developing their traits.
My favorite part of this book was the themes of individual responsibility versus societal norms. When the President announced that he was taking over and forcing the world to save the planet, many of the other government officials were against it because it went against the governmental laws. However, as pointed out by the President, the earth would not survive unless the people did something extreme, even if it meant breaking the social rules. The people had to take responsibility for their actions and ignore precedent. There was a running discussion of morals, which I found to be very interesting.
I only noticed a few grammatical errors throughout the book; I believe it was professionally edited. I also thought it was written in a compelling manner that helped drive the plot forward.
Overall, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I think the lack of character development is a major enough issue to take away a star. However, it is an excellent book in all other regards. This book is labeled as a science-fiction novel; however, I would argue that it is more of a political thriller. There is a large focus on political spheres and the conflict of going against political expectations. I would recommend this book to fans of political novels; it would also be a good read for those who are interested in climate change. I would not recommend this to younger or sensitive audiences because there is strong language and some sexual content. This is an eye-opening book that takes on several current moral and political issues, which makes it an interesting read.
The First President of Earth
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