America Pacifica: May’s Book of the Month Giveaway!

“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

America Pacifica, by writer Anna North, is a gritty novel full of dead ends, untrustworthy pathways, and unsavory characters, all of which make the read engrossing and worthwhile.

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?

Leave a comment below telling us and fellow blog readers what you think. For participating, you could win a free copy of America Pacifica.

Just remember:

  • You have until Friday, May 27, 2011 to participate.
  • Though you may leave comments after the above date, any comments left after 11:59 p.m. ET on May 27 will not be counted into the giveaway.
  • Only comments left on this blog post will be counted.
  • We will contact you via e-mail if you are a winner.
  • For more information, please see our Contests & Comments page.

And also remember, if you purchase the book here, leave your own review of the book right here on the site, or on our Goodreads group!


About Angela

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  1. Avatar
    Darcy 05/20/2011 at 4:34 pm #

    My utopia: A quiet little town made of brick and stone. There are lots of trees and everyone knows their neighbors. The kids can play soccer outside in the parks.
    My dystopia: A loud, crowded steel and glass city. Crime. Graffiti. Smog. Trash.
    If I lived in a dystopia, I’d try and keep the city as clean as possible. I would pick up trash and try and plant trees to reduce the pollution in the city.
    (P.S. Love that the main character’s name is Darcy!)

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    Maria 05/20/2011 at 6:29 pm #

    My utopia: Every single person shares a heart-understanding of the phrase “love is blind.” We love each other regardless of size, color, or clothing (though ModCloth dresses are still so ‘in’!:) People sing on the sidewalk without being self-conscious (but no Lady Gaga), and a turkey club with extra mustard is always free. Kids never learn to hate their neighbors or their parents or their bodies, and all elevator music is Bruce Springsteen.
    My dystopia: We’re afraid. We’re afraid of each other, of rejection and of pain. People don’t sing because they believe their neighbor has a better voice. Turkey clubs are $6.99, and that’s not even for a 12-inch. Elevator music is smooth jazz with a side of cheesy. It’s perpetually winter. And not the pretty kind. What would I do about it? I’d introduce every single person to every single OTHER person. Once we all get to see that everyone has a painful story, we might love a little more. 🙂
    Also, I’d open a deli. Free turkey.

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    Emily 05/20/2011 at 6:49 pm #

    My dystopia would be very similar to A Handmaid’s Tale. Women would lose their rights and would be locked up and only used for procreation. Also luxury items and expensive food would be rationed. Entertainment and fun would be pretty much nonexistent. If I lived in this dystopia, I would try to quietly rebel in order to avoid punishment or try to organize a break out to find if the rest of the world is different.

  4. Avatar
    Nikki 05/20/2011 at 6:54 pm #

    my utopia would be a place that is very nature friendly. plants, food is fresh, home grown. a place where everyone can trust their neighbors.
    my dystopia would be kind of like an overrun city. smoggy, dirty, and having to go to a park to get your “dose” of grass and trees.
    to make my version of a dystopia better i would try to make a community garden started, as well as trash pick up and encourage others to help.

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    Kelly 05/20/2011 at 8:22 pm #

    My dystopia would be a place where everyone got what they wanted physically but none of what they needed spiritually. It would be people ignoring each other. My utopia would be a place where everyone was loved and cared for. It would be a place of kindness and peace.
    If I lived in my dystopia, I would do what I can to pay attention to others’ needs and help them realize that love is more important than physical niceties. I would orchestrate a community of love.

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    Alyssa 05/20/2011 at 9:17 pm #

    My utopia would be a place where there was no war, poverty, or crime. It wouldn’t necessarily be a beautiful place where everything was languid and the sun was always shining, but it would be perfect in a more societal way. Everyone would be kind and giving, there would be no discrimination or injustice… It’s not that there would be no anger or sadness, because I know that negative emotions are a healthy and necessary part of life, but I guess everyone would just get along and be nonjudgmental towards each other.
    My dystopia would be pretty much the opposite, I guess, haha. I’ve read a lot of dystopian books (they’re my favorite type!) so I know what would make a terrible earth. But I think that even worse than having prejudice and injustice would be if everyone else was gone. Sure, it would be cool at first to be able to do whatever I want, but eventually it would be absolutely terrible to have no company. If everything else on Earth died, including all the plants and animals, it would be just terrible. Not only would there be no food and a desolate landscape, but the isolation would be unbearable. At least a bad society or authoritarian regime could be changed.

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    Margaret 05/20/2011 at 9:54 pm #

    Utopia: A true utopia can never exist because of our finicky human nature. It’s impossible for one person’s desires, likes, etc. to completely coincide with another’s. The only way for complete agreement to happen is complete uniformity, which means that no one is neither happy, nor unhappy. So if I were to describe my utopia it would be one where no one can be denied their identity. There would be a fragile balance of good and evil. Because without evil, how can good exist? No one was afraid to speak their mind, no matter what the consequences are. And, most importantly, everyone had the access to knowledge. Not necessarily textbook information but people had the time to think deeply about a troubling subject, even if the answer isn’t crystal clear. Oh and an unlimited supply of music available to anyone and everyone wouldn’t hurt either(:
    Dystopia: I believe that today, we live in both a utopia and dystopia, it just depends on how you look at your life and your part in the grander scheme of things. Those who believe we are in a dystopia will offer help at every opportunity. Those who see a utopia, accept it. My fictional dystopia would not have any form of art. No form of expression. A completely uniform society. I would like to be the maverick who frees the rest, showing them not to be afraid to express and embrace their individuality(: Metaphorically speaking, having them see the light.

  8. Avatar
    Tiffany 05/20/2011 at 10:37 pm #

    My utopia is a place where “gym, tan, laundry” isn’t. My utopia is a place where people look at a person’s heart before their waist size. My utopia is a place where everyone is born with the natural ability to play an instrument without taking lessons. My utopia is a place where everyone bikes and eats Orange Cup’s frozen yogurt every day. My utopia is a place where automobiles, power plants, and industrial factories were never invented. My utopia is pure, clean and green.
    My dystopia is a place with no trees. My dystopia has no faith, no family, and no friends. There is no hope in my dystopia and no frozen yogurt. My dystopia has never heard of music or love. My dystopia is filled with hovercrafts, trains, and buses spewing liquid poison onto the gunk covered earth. My dystopia is my worst nightmare coming true. I would never give in to this dystopia that I call my own. It has to be tamed and I do this with patience and perseverance. I sneakily begin to form a secret society in order to over run the government and make things right. Eventually, when Donald Trump finally realizes that I actually was born in this dystopia, he joins my cause and his name alone makes my secret society public. By the time the government catches wind of the secret society that Trump has joined, it is too late. My 12 step program from dystopia to utopia has already begun.

    • Avatar
      Jaime 05/22/2011 at 11:35 pm #

      I love your idea of a Utopia. I think i’d fit right in 🙂

  9. Avatar
    Ani 05/21/2011 at 9:03 am #

    Fortunately I have found my utopia. A small farmers town where everyone knows everyone. Dirt roads run through the town and parents fear not of their kids walking to the corner grocery. The seasons fade throughout the year giving bloom to new flowers, sun-dresses, and light flurries.
    My dystopia is a place where winter lasts eight months out of the year. It is cold and the people are callous. Everyone keeps to themselves and it is hard to make new friends. Changing my dystopia would involve a little help from Mother Nature, but also trying to get people out into the world and conscious of those around them. I would try and start events centered around the community and just keep pushing for involvement.

  10. Avatar
    Charlene 05/21/2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Sounds like an interesting must read book.

  11. Avatar
    Sarah Bibi Setar 05/21/2011 at 6:47 pm #

    My utopia would be a place where there would be no racism, war on terror or political conspiracies. It would be a place where people would go back to their roots and live simpler lives. We would do away with our consumerist culture and appreciate the simple and important joys in our lives- family, fresh food, quiet time, reading time, etc. Taking an afternoon nap for an hour each day would be made compulsory by law and people would immerse themselves in absolute silence for at least two hours each weekend.

    My dystopia would be a world so overtaken by consumerism and technology that youngsters walk around like music-listening, perpetually-gaming zombies and people have lost touch with their humanity. Family relationships are devalued and people live isolated, lonely lives while purposefully running after material wealth and goals. People no longer bother getting married, but would rather have many illegitimate children in an attempt to ensure continuation of the human race but without involving themselves in loving, warm and committed relationships. Many women are made infertile due to the harmful chemicals ingested in heavily processed foods, making it harder to find women to procreate with. Similarly, there is a proliferation of infertile men. All of this is facilitated by government laws which seek to gain the most out of resources and seeking to produce more food, faster without a care for the health of its people and by governments’ seeking to gain the most out of individuals by promoting a consumerist culture and providing incentives for individuals to sacrifice their personal lives, leisure time and happiness in order to further their careers and boost the economy.

    If I had to exist in this dystopian society, I’d probably spend many hours in intense therapy sessions trying to work out a plan to set my life back on track and not get pulled into behaving like the masses. I would turn to religion as a means of pulling myself out of the mess I’m sure my life would be should I exist in such a society.

  12. Avatar
    Ellie 05/21/2011 at 8:14 pm #

    My idea of utopia involves a city, but I’m not sure about the details. I think my idea of dystopia is a place in which everything seems fine on the surface, but if you dig deeper there are serious issues. I guess the best way to solve the problems in that kind of society (or at least to begin to) would be to show that they exist.

  13. Avatar
    Brooke 05/22/2011 at 9:22 pm #

    My utopia: A nostalgic world where second hand bookshops actually have a chance for survival, there is no such thing as a bad-hair-day, no one goes hungry or lives on the street. It’s a democratic society with more than two political parties and there are no physical wars; disputes are solved with words and negotiations. Even the large cities are extremely verdant and full of life and energy
    My dystopia: A dry, desert, barren-type place but with none of the cool flora and fauna of an actual desert. It’s just baked clay forever and all the buildings are huge rusted monstrosities that vaguely look like camper trailers from the 1950s stacked on top of each other. The atmosphere is a suffocating dry heat full of impurities and the only edible plant that grows is celery. There is no autocratic government; rather it’s a sort of mob-ocracy with dangerous vigilante people who troll the dirt paths between buildings and shoot and gut anyone who crosses them.
    If I lived in a dystopia I would help in any revolution that I could. I would also try to improve my own situation as far as I were able such as making my home beautiful, baking pizza, and singing nonsensical songs to myself.

  14. Avatar
    Jaime 05/22/2011 at 11:31 pm #

    I have to say, you ladies inspire me 😛 I don’t know if I truly believe in a dystopia or utopia environment. Humans are so flawed, i just don’t think it’s possible, but on the other hand, not everything is all inherently bad. good can come from bad, i know this well. But, my idea of a utopia would be, everyone would be allowed and able to have their own opinion, but not try to change anyone else’s or interfere in their life thru misunderstanding of that other person. Also, every household would have their own ‘victory’ garden, and be able to partially sustain themselves and their family with what they grow. Every garden is sort of a niche, to what that family specializes in or chooses to grow.
    Every local neighboorhood has a farmer’s market where everyone brings something from their gardens, as well as hand-made clothes and household items, to sell or barter. There will be lots of trees and flowers around too. EVERYONE will be vegetarian. (hey it is MY utopia :P) The animals will be tended to and taken care of with love and kindness, on farms just for that purpose, across the land. People will have jobs, of course, lots of teachers and writers, painters and poets. Gov’t as we know it will be all but abandoned. We will be the ones to keep each other in check.
    Wow, I guess that’s just a basic, one-thought idea, I haven’t really fleshed it out. My version of a dystopia, actually, i’ve felt like I’ve already lived in that idea, fom my own experiences. Too much to go into detail here of course, but yeah, basically, the opposite of my ideal of a utopia. A lot of wrongful interference that happens daily, under the guise of ‘help.’ And, when those responsible realize they’ve made mistakes, they cover it up instead of fixing things. That kind of stuff. And, intolerance of other opinions or ideals to the point of control. And, meat production would be at an all-time high. Nobody thinks for themself, etc.
    Thanks for getting us to think about this, Angela!

    • Avatar
      Jaime 05/23/2011 at 6:48 pm #

      To add, in my utopia, stereotypes still exist, of course, but people will move past them and get to know a unique person instead of directly misjudging them bc of someone or something else.

  15. Avatar
    Amy 05/23/2011 at 6:09 pm #

    My utopia would be a nice quiet and calm place where I would be able to get away from everything. I would constantly be surrounded by good music and a wonderful amount of books that I would delve into without a second thought. My utopia also wouldn’t have the drama that surrounds high school.

    My dystopia would be constantly surrounded by the dramatic people. I would drown from the noise of all the rap music and constant chatter. My dystopia would be full of state standardized tests and so much stress a person would implode because of it. Even the air would be disgustingly suffocating because of stress and garlic, because uncooked garlic smells pretty gross. Also my dystopia would be full of uncreative people and “cookie cutter” people.

    To make my dystopia
    a better place I would make Indie a more popular form of music and do something creative that people wouldn’t know what hit them. I would also help ban the growing of garlic because the stench alone could severely injure someone!

  16. Avatar
    Sara 05/24/2011 at 12:21 am #

    Honestly, I think that the common idea of having a utopia (a perfect world where everyone is happy) is something that would almost bore me. Because if everyone was always happy then it would make life pretty uneventful. I think that the way that our lives are now is something that is ideal because no one has anything that we cannot handle ourselves or with a little help from our friends. I guess if I had to pick something to be my utopia, I would pick a place where me and my friends and family were always able to do what we wanted and would get along well.

  17. Avatar
    Kaitlin 05/24/2011 at 11:26 am #

    My utopia would be a place of peace – no wars, no hatred. Everyone would care about the world around them, there would be plenty of fresh air, and everybody would recycle. The environment would be clean and we would all ride bikes to preserve valuable fossil fuels and preserve our environment.
    My dystopia would be a place full of hatred – warring EVERYWHERE and family members turning against each other. There would be no trees and the air would be polluted everywhere you looked. There would be trash all over the place and nobody would care about anything else. Many animals would be extinct and more would be dying all over the place.

    All in all, our society can’t have a dystopia or a utopia, because there are both people who care and people who do not. We cannot come together in 100% hate or love, so these are impossibilities. Although, wouldn’t it be cool if everyone could, to quote the Beatles, ‘Come together?’

  18. Avatar
    Jennifer 05/25/2011 at 2:13 am #

    When I close my eyes and imagine my utopia, I see the world around me at peace. Neighbors are talking over their white picket fences about the sunshine. Everyone is enjoying their life to the fullest. (P.S. I am married to Prince Harry and own a capybara named Swish)
    Dystopia would set in when countries are at war with each other and everyone is bored out of their wits. Me and Prince Harry would be divorced and Swish would die. The cities would be covered in grime and all of the plants and animals would die:(.
    I would NEVER let any of that happen though. I would personally keep the cities clean and everyone talking to each other. I would open opportunities for everyone to enjoy themselves and set up animal sanctuaries.
    I think the president should take a cue from this;)

  19. Avatar
    Nadia 05/27/2011 at 10:32 pm #

    utopia: none. with no hate there is no love, with no stupid there is no smart, with no ugly there is no beautiful; And how boring would it be if the world was exactly how you wanted it?

    dystopia: if everyone was the same.

    i would fix this by being different 😉

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