Posted in Book review, Books, Reading Challenge

Book review: Herääminen by Risto Isomäki

Another book read by a Finnish author and in Finnish language. It was a goal for me to try and read a bit more in my own native language this year and I’ve done that, even though sometimes it feels more natural to read in English.
Anyways, Herääminen (Awakening in English) is a sci-fi book with a very heavy climate change theme.

Meillä oli niin paljon aikaa, ajatteli Irina. Meitä varoitettiin, hyvissä ajoin etukäteen. Miksi me emme tehneet mitään silloin, kun se olisi ollut vielä helppoa?

Rough translation from Finnish: “We had so much time, Irina thought. We were warned, well beforehand. Why didn’t we do anything back then when it would have still been easy?”

The theme of climate change is of course really current and interesting, but sadly the story didn’t live up to my expectations.

Herääminen is a sci-fi book about our world in 2038. It mostly focuses on Finland and Russia and how things have changed after the Gulf Stream stopped. First there was a cold period, a mini ice-age, before the temperatures started rising to alerting levels of 40 and 50 degrees celcius. The book starts the story with mysterious deaths that happen suddenly to a group of people, first in ships and then in coastal towns. Turns out methane clathrate, buried under the oceans, has started to melt and causes huge amounts of methane released to the atmosphere and that doesn’t mean anything good for anyone.

Finnish and Russian experts start to investigate the matter. We learn about what had happened over the years, how the world has changed with the environmental crisis, and how there could have been enough time in the past to still stop climate change. Sadly there weren’t enough concrete improvements done before things started to change drastically. Sound familiar?

I didn’t like the book, but read it through for the sheer guilt of having just heard climate activist Greta Thunbergs powerful, touching speech at the UN Climate Action Summit a couple of days ago. After that, was I going to be so lazy that I couldn’t even finish a book about climate change? So I pushed through the book and did not enjoy it despite the interesting details about climate change and what could happen in the near future.

The reason for my dislike was that:

  • The dialogue was clumsy
  • The characters were very thinly designed
  • This wasn’t a good sci-fi book

The author, Risto Isomäki, is known for his sci-fi books that usually deal with ecological problems. He also writes non-fiction books about climate change matters. Herääminen is from one of his earlier books, so maybe that explains why the facts were good but the story and characters not. Maybe his newer books are better.

I was still ok with the hint of something mysterious/supernatural happening, maybe, but then when it was too in-your-face-aliens-everywhere, I lost interest. Apparently the higher beings/aliens are keeping our planet as a “zoo” and are also trying to help us not to destroy our planet with programmed AIDS virus epidemics and bombarding us with huge batches of nuts that magically grow to super trees in just a few days to help control the climate change. And then when humans discover that omg aliens are real, the aliens hurriedly leave. And they take the moon, our moon, away because that has been their observation base all the time. And that’s where the book ends… Yup.

Ok, so I knew it was a sci-fi book so why not have aliens that fly away with our moon? But it was just so anti-climatic. I enjoyed reading about the scientific details about the effects of climate change, and what could still be done, but the aliens felt like deus ex machina. We need to solve the issue of climate change ourselves, and not have some random aliens do it for us. If we are stupid enough to let our species, and our planet, die without really trying to do something to prevent it then don’t we kinda deserve it?

I hope we as a species will find a solution, that we can really all commit to, and prevent climate change going any further. And we have to be able to do it without the help of random aliens. Otherwise it’s going to be interesting rest of the life we live.

I’m trying to think what am I as an individual already doing to pull my weight in this climate change fight:

  • We recycle most of the household waste like biowaste, cardboard, glass, paper, plastic and old clothes and items are taken to charity/recycled
  • I’m trying to buy mostly better quality clothes that are more sustainable and hopefully will last for a longer time
  • We have a hybrid car and our drive to work and back is done with electricity
  • We flex between meat and vegetarian food and favor locally made produce when possible

    Yes, I could do much more but it’s a start, just like for any of us.

Herääminen is part of the Reading Challenge and fills the prompt of:

22. A book about climate change

Herääminen wasn’t a great story but it really did make me think more about climate change and what small things anyone of us could do to help. So in that way it was still worth the read.


I love books, games and the coziness of our house (currently it's the kingdom of me and my husband). My work in a game studio as a Senior HR Specialist keeps me busy and social, but I am an introvert in my core. Navigating life between my very social work and my introvert, less social personality can be tricky and it goes hand in hand with my interest in overall personal well-being.

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