“The trouble started when the woman with the shaking hands came to the apartment…She said she was a friend of Darcy’s mother, but Darcy’s mother didn’t have friends.” – America Pacifica
Darcy is an eighteen-year-old citizen of the dystopian America Pacifica, an overpopulated island that was established after the United States mainland fell into an ice age. Darcy and her mother struggle through the days in the slums, making barely enough to survive. After a typically depressing day at her cafeteria worker job, Darcy returns home to find the apartment oddly empty. When she wakes up the next morning, alone and with her mother still not home, the panic sets in.
This island is not the kind of place where a young, poor, woman can report a missing relative and expect cooperation from authorities. As a result, Darcy resorts to asking for help from just about anyone who will lend an ear, even if they are dangerous people. As she gathers bits of information about her mother’s disappearance, Darcy learns more about the strange origins of the island.
I liked that America Pacifica contained elements of a futuristic dystopian novel — an absolute ruler with a vague history, extreme social structures, and a main character fighting with both of those situations. I also adored North’s descriptive writing. It is deep and rich; the reader really feels, even smells, the dirty, soggy island. However, while the descriptions are tremendous, the pacing is a little slow. Things that seemed promising merely petered out, leaving Darcy, as well as myself, frustrated.
If you’re used to reading fast-paced novels, you may want to give this one a little bit of extra time. That said, it’s definitely one worth reading if you love heroines, dark futures, and crafty writing.
Discussion question: Describe your own dystopia and utopia. If you lived in what you’d consider a dystopia, what would you do to make it better?
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