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Book Review: Fish Tank By Scott Bischke, an Insightful Allegory

Book Review: Fish Tank By Scott Bischke, an Insightful Allegory
Title: Fish Tank
Author: Scott Bischke
Publisher: MountainWorks Press
Publication Date: 8th January 2012
Goodreads Summary: Fish Tank is an insightful allegory about the human condition, tackling issues of politics and power, limited resources and climate change.
FISH TANK is the ANIMAL FARM for our times.
–Dr. Pete Coppolillo, Ecologist
FISH TANK is a clever and fascinating fable that provides an insightful mirror on the folly of current human attitudes concerning climate change and global degradation.
–Dr. Steven W. Running, Nobel Laureate as a member of the IPCC, University of Montana

Fish Tank Book Review

So I’ve been rearranging my bookshelf and I discovered Fish Tank by Scott Bischke at the bottom of a very big pile of books. I actually received this book to review back in 2012 so I’m pretty darn ashamed that it’s taken me this long to get round to it! Better late than never… right?

Fish Tank has been hailed as a modern day Animal Farm, a fantastic novel, so I was immediately interested in reading it. Instead of taking place on a farm, this story takes place in a small aquarium owned by a Professor Brown. The story goes that Professor Brown is given the opportunity to take a year long sabbatical in Australia to save a rare species of seahorse. However, this means that he has to leave his beloved aquarium at home in the hands of Augustus, a lazy man who is only interested in money.

Despite Professor Brown’s reservations, he has no choice but to leave Augustus in charge as there isn’t anybody else willing to take the job he posted. Augustus agrees to check up on the fish tanks twice a week, though the fish feeder has enough food in it to last a week and being the lazy man he is, he has already mentally decided that he won’t visit the tanks anymore than he needs to.

As soon as Professor Brown leaves, Augustus tries to think up a plan for how he can minimise the amount of work he has to do, but still pick up his pay cheques. His master plan is to enlarge the feeder to last for longer than a week so that he doesn’t need to keep coming back on a weekly basis. Augustus, or AgainstUs as the fish call him, attaches a 55-gallon drum to the top of the feeder and fills the drum with food.

Thinking he’s a genius, Augustus leaves with absolutely no intention of returning to the aquarium again before the year is up. Meanwhile, the fish have been watching Augustus’ actions and debates spark up as they ponder whether or not they have enough food to last the year. Some fish are more dominant than others and have different ideas about how they should handle the fact that they are now alone, with the possibility of a food shortage before the year is up and the story continues…

Fish Tank is a very easy read that I sped through in one sitting. It’s an interesting tale that explores different personalities and different attitudes towards dealing with problems facing society, in this case a shortage of food, but the same model can be applied to other situations facing society today, such as global warming.

Although it may seem a little silly to use fish as the characters for such a story, that is what is so effective about Fish Tank. You think that you are reading a simple short story, with interesting characters, but in fact this is subtle commentary on society. The nature of the characters as fish means that this novel is easy to understand as well as entertaining and can be read by readers of all ages. This is the sort of book that should be studied in schools and discussed and debated openly because this isn’t a story about fish, it is a story about us and the society that we are living in today.

The aim of Fish Tank is to get people to think about the problem of limited resources and how society needs to work together to solve said issues. I firmly believe that this book has achieved its aims as it certainly made me think about the shortage of natural resources that we are facing today as well as how the failure to cooperate can destroy an entire society. This book shows just how important it is for the entire world to work together to combat our issues but it also demonstrates the sad reality that this will almost certainly never happen, sealing our fate.

I think that the ending to Fish Tank could’ve been a little better developed as this was the really crucial point and there could’ve been more commentary on how the actions of these fish led to this point. The reader is supposed to learn from a fable and I think that the message of this story needed to be reiterated more strongly at the end to make this work even better than it already is. However, I don’t think the ending is at all obvious or predictable which is a bonus point because the entire way through the reader is left wondering whether this society will survive or not which encourages you to keep reading.

All in all, Fish Tank is a fantastic short read that will keep you entertained and intrigued throughout. This story carries with it an important message and the author has done a brilliant job of conveying a serious message through the medium of fiction. I sincerely hope that this book gains popularity as it a must read for our generation and gives you much food for thought.

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Laura is a culture and travel blogger based in London. She studied French at Oxford University and now studies Law in London. She’s an avid reader and traveller and loves to combine the two with literary travel. Find her tips and reviews on the best reads, eats and destinations on whatshotblog.com.

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