Syndrome E meets Marianne Dreams but Smog City incorporates Cape Breton's industrial past with super 8 found footage which puts it in a class all its own Google Blogs Smog City is a Canadian novel written by teenage author Rebecca McNutt in 2011 and published in 2015 It tells the story of a misfit but nonetheless average girl who has a friendship with the personification of a hazardous waste site in Sydney an industrial steeltown of Atlantic Canada from the 1980's to 2013 The year is 1986 and there's a surreal number of events hidden in plain sight Digital is in and traditional is out the world is rapidly changing and yet everything is subtly falling apart Mandy Valems is eighteen planning to go to college soon with dreams of being a photojournalist but the sudden unexplained death of her older brother has left her emotionally scarred She's also living on Cape Breton Island a small but very industrial place in Atlantic Canada during the environmental movement and the Sydney Tar Ponds case and her best friend Wendy and her grieving parents aren't much help either then one day Mandy meets an assumed imaginary friend who is a super 8 film enthusiast and as she gets older she finds herself falling deeper and deeper into something dangerous involving a dark secret between pollution and nature She's too old to have an imaginary friend at least she thinks so but her friend might be the most real friend she's ever had in the world The trouble is he's got the promise of certain death looming over him unless Mandy can do something to help Traveling through shocking VHS found footage and nostalgic memories of the past her confusing life gets out of control and she begins to uestion society in general and whether or not the rapid and thoughtless conversion of everything to digital technology is dooming the world Smog City takes Cape Breton's extensive industrial past and 20th century nostalgia to a whole different level one where pollution has emotion and two friends try their best to survive in a world where everything including life is disposable


10 thoughts on “Sysco

  1. says:

    Smog City is an amazing novel in many ways; that it was written by a twelve year old tackling a hostile environment makes it all the so At that age I would have struggled to construct a sentence let alone a book


  2. says:

    Even thought the idiots outnumber most people these days there are still enough intelligent people to fight against it I received a free PDF from the author in exchange for an honest review Thanks Rebecca I have a sudden urge to buy a Polaroid camera after reading this bookI liked Smog City I liked it uite a bit It is certainly a highly unusual yet very intriguing novel I wouldn't recommend it for the faint of heart considering that some scenes are uite eerie and disturbing It's the first book regarding pollution I've read that takes the opposite side of the argument Fascinating It must've taken some guts to write a book like this I applaud thee Rebecca McNutt I applaud thee I had several doubts before reading this book The primary reason being that I am perfectly ignorant of Canadian culture but this thankfully turned out to be irrelevant I had also heard that this book was incredibly disturbing so being the sueamish teenage girl that I am I waited several months before starting on this book When will I learn that hesitation and procrastination are senseless? Actually come to think of itcollege isn't too far away I'll learn then Smog City takes place in a meager yet eminently industrial town in Nova Scotia Canada and follows the story of Mandy Valems an antisocial eighteen year old girl who hopes to earn a career in photojournalism and spends her free time capturing photos a toxic waste site called the Sydney Tar Ponds After Mandy's older brother dies in a car accident her family begins to tear itself apart Several months after the accident Mandy meets Alecto a dreary teenager who she feels a strange connection to but no one else seems to acknowledge his existence After saving Mandy from a lifetime in prison for the murder of her neighbor Alecto tells her that he's a personification of the Sydney Tar Ponds At first I had a little trouble getting into Smog City because I couldn't necessarily connect with Mandy Valems I pitied her when Jud died and her parents no longer cared about her but I didn't feel any connection to her She just seemed too generic I suppose This usually wouldn't be much of an issue but considering that there's really only three recurring characters I like to be able to relate with at least one of them Now that being said I don't think Mandy was a bad protagonist As her mental state gradually deteriorates throughout the novel she uits her job her family practically renounces her and she becomes a hermit Pretty realistic considering that her best friend is literally pollution I think Mandy is supposed to be a sort of personification for modern day society and perhaps that's why she doesn't have a very distinct personality Still a fairly interesting character though Alecto gave me the heebie jeebies I felt so unbelievably bad for him He's depressed has a pretty serious case of Stockholm Syndrome and view spoilerattempts suicide multiple times hide spoiler


  3. says:

    I was very kindly given a review e copy of this book by the authorStarting out I had some vague and poorly thought out idea that I was toshould review this book without alluding to the authors age This soon proved impossible because it is uite an accomplishment to put something like this to paper starting out at an age where most of us struggle with complete and coherent sentences The surreal oddly occasionally violent story doesn't indicate a teenage author either but is uite challenging at times The embodimentmanifestation into human form representation of hazardous waste sitespolluted areas and the main characters reaction to them I never really got used to or got right in my head I jumped at the first statement of I like pollution uttered even before she's aware of the representations and befriending the chain smoking and Windex drinking Alecto the Sydney Tar Ponds made flesh? The embodiment of Mearth is also hard to comprehend vicious and ugly brought rather an old testament god gotten up on the wrong side and vengeful than a mellow earth mother to mind Throw in a resentment for the environmental movement and in particular hippies into the mix and the mind is boggled even Lots of references to 80's music analog technology cameras and celluloid film especially and a huge dislike of modern technology digital media and constant on line presence actually makes even the young protagonist nostalgic for a time she really hasn't experienced? But this is of course not the only contradictory theme in the book as stated above Certainly this is a self published first by a very young writer and it shows in places surprisingly little in typosmistakes but the dialog and there's a lot is a little bit awkward in places but uite good in others The ending chapters could have used some editing things started to go in circles there for a while The epilogue is really good and added a lot to the story and experience I'm very curious to see what later offerings will bring


  4. says:

    Mandy’s struggle to save a toxic site from remediation and her interesting relationship with the site’s identity parallel the metaphor of adolescent innocence and its labored transition to adulthood caught in the site’s metaphysical witness of a hundred years of cultural change Mandy’s idealism of wanting life to be a certain way mixes with Alecto’s near film noir ambivalence and existential sarcasm The new wave of a marshmallow minded digital born generation and their caustic opinion of industrialism and all of its life sustaining economic properties as a threat to the well being of the planet add to the juxtaposition of the character’s taste in seventies music old diners real film and the battleground of touristy Nova Scotia hovering between these two intellectually warring factions A masterpiece of originality and eclectic authenticity as drawn from the brave soil of a young writer’s burgeoning youth Smog City never apologizes for what it truly is a powerful testament to the misunderstanding of change as blended with a massive exposition on the heartbeat of classic industrialism and the soullessness of the modern era Smog City never attempts to capitulate to the tropes of genre giving this easy to read tale a sincerity of passion as vivid as Rebecca McNutt’s visualisation of Sydney Nova Scotia itself


  5. says:

    What's on your corrupted mind pretty little Sydney Tar Ponds? I got a free PDF copy of Smog City from the author and after reading it I have all sorts of uestions racing through my mind Smog City is depressing and horrific and definitely not a book for younger readers but I do have to say it's certainly creative; from an eccentric photojournalist to a toxic waste site personification with a collection of snuff reels in his house this book sort of wipes away the facade of Cape Breton's green cheery tourist attraction atmosphere Mandy is a deeply troubled person and her jock older brother's accident that took his life leaves her parents grief stricken They're hardly characters because they're at work constantly in fact they're just figures who appear once or twice very briefly Mandy finds herself home alone most days and nights but at eighteen years old she's allowed to wander her Canadian small town home as she pleases The place she spends the most time at is the Sydney Tar Ponds a toxic chemical estuary near her own home Her only friend is Wendy the high school gossip and immature girl who spends most of her time airing out the dirty laundry of her friends and neighborsOne day Mandy meets a kid who appears to be her own age named Alecto Alecto smokes cigarettes and seems to hardly ever leave the Tar Ponds site He comes across to Mandy as fragile weak thin and depressed so suspecting that somebody is abusing him she takes pity on him and gets to know him some after a few days On one night Mandy does something horrible and Alecto turns out to be helpful than she ever expected She also finds out that he's not a person and this fact sort of makes her snap She and Alecto become best friends but when Mandy uestions Alecto about his personal life he refuses to tellAs the novel goes on it's towards the middle of it where it takes a turn from being whimsically eccentric towards being disturbing and depressing Mandy starts getting crazier and crazier in fact she view spoileruits her newspaper job acts childish and her family leaves her behind; her seemingly antisocial behavior covers up her sadness and she avoids the world at all costs snapping at people who try to speak to her and taking up Alecto's habit of chain smoking hide spoiler


  6. says:

    The writing style reminds me of Faulkner Clear precise and to the point This is a story of a girl whom feels miscast in a place that has become mobilized by technology Surrounded by new technology she wonders what was wrong with the old If I is not broken don't fix it I tend to agree with her I just recently got a cell phone just to use in case of an emergency last year I enjoy older music to new older shows were better and thought provoking old film to digital may have taken longer but what a thrill seeing it develop slowly like a flower blooms I could go on but she better explains in the book After a family tragedy and feeling alone she befriends a personification of a pollution site of course this wins her no favor and pushes her to the outside than in which is fine with her Sadness loss friendship trying to find a place to belong and many themes this book takes form She lends her hand and walks you in her shoes and hometown seamlessly I can only say positive things about this book For something different and a page turner give this book a read


  7. says:

    This is an intriguing book and I was transported very uickly to the tar ponds site – I love the smell of tar assuming the STP smells the same as I know The story line is uniue; the personification of a hazardous waste site befriending a human being This is a fast paced book snappy dialogue and believable characters I lamented along with Mandy at the demise of proper photography and the analogue world now all but buried under the ubiuitous and homogenising ‘digital age’For me a good book is one where life is an irritating interruption to my reading of it This was such a book and I enjoyed reading it very much The book itself I read borrowed a copy from a friend was wonderfully uirky – I always knew what page I was on thanks to the big page numbers and if I read correctly the excellent art work was done in MS Paint; no mean featThis book is well worth reading and I recommend it


  8. says:

    A Walk to the Dark SideMandy Valems is an impressionable lonely teenager who is grieving the loss of her brother and unable to form a long term friendship with her peers and neighbours In an effort to overcome her sense of isolation she strikes up an unlikely relationship with Alecto an odd youth who soon exerts a mysterious destructive influence over herThe French author Antoine de Saint Exupéry captured the magic and attraction of creating an imaginary friend in his classic The Little Prince In that instance a pilot crashed his plane in the Sahara desert and survived his isolation by inventing an imaginary friend Whereas the little prince represented a benign influence Alecto turns out to be a rather malevolent albeit seductive attraction Although he helps relieve Mandy’s loneliness he also brings trouble than he solves He represents the walk to the dark sideDespite numerous warnings by Alecto to stay away from him or risk terrible danger Mandy remains loyal to him She resists changes at all costs including an alarming attachment to a toxic pond in the middle of her Canadian city just because it has always been there for her It’s a pretty weird idea but it becomes an excuse for refusing to grow up Will she eventually overcome this obsession with the past and move on or will she forever remain immature? That is the uestion this book will hopefully resolveMandy hangs on to Alecto in the mistaken belief that she can control him But what Alecto represents is strong and seductive and destructive than anything she can possibly handle It is the dark side of humanity the desire for evil murder and self protection We are so often attracted to danger Why? Whatever Alecto represents to Mandy it is a powerful attraction It speaks of cruelty murder pollution that kills innocent people and ruins lives And yet Mandy cannot get away from Alecto He has become a part of herselfI enjoyed reading Smog City for the sheer curiosity of getting into the mind of a 13 year old And what a teenager that is Rebecca McNutt is imaginative creative brim full of ideas and a wonderful artist too For those ualities alone I am giving Smog City five stars I will look forward to reading other books by Miss McNutt I am curious to see how her formidable writing talent growsThis book was given to me in return for an honest review


  9. says:

    A remarkable achievement for anyone let alone a 12 year old girl I bought a copy so I will offer some honest criticism Instead of just dropping the names of classic rock songs do with them like explaining how they affect the scene For example Joe Hill in The Fireman references the Dire Straits song Romeo Juliet several times with the Fireman askingyou and me babehow about it? More effective is his use of the movie Mary Poppins and three songs from the movie A friend of mine spent a summer in the 1970's in Sidney Nova Scotia I will lend him the book and see if I can get his thoughts He already told me about his difficulties in growing a garden and how interested his neighbors were in his efforts


  10. says:

    I was given this story in pdf form in exchange for an honest review I have to say I enjoyed the book it made me stop and think about the way things were and the way things are I love photography and reading the book made me miss the process of yesterday and yet feel grateful for the modern advances I was torn in regards to Alecto being soft hearted I wanted to see him succeed Knowing he is pollution caused me second thoughts Overall the story was great I never knew what to expect Great plots twists Thank you Rebecca great story