America Pacifica – Anna North

27 Sep

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Released: June 12th, 2012
Genre: Dystopia
Review copy from publisher

Eighteen-year-old Darcy lives on the island of America Pacifica–one of the last places on earth that is still habitable, after North America has succumbed to a second ice age. Education, food, and basic means of survival are the province of a chosen few, while the majority of the island residents must struggle to stay alive. The rich live in “Manhattanville” mansions made from the last pieces of wood and stone, while the poor cower in the shantytown slums of “Hell City” and “Little Los Angeles,” places built out of heaped up trash that is slowly crumbling into the sea. The island is ruled by a mysterious dictator named Tyson, whose regime is plagued by charges of corruption and conspiracy.

But to Darcy, America Pacifica is simply home–the only one she’s ever known. In spite of their poverty she lives contentedly with her mother, who works as a pearl diver. It’s only when her mother doesn’t come home one night that Darcy begins to learn about her past as a former “Mainlander,” and her mother’s role in the flight from frozen California to America Pacifica. Darcy embarks on a quest to find her mother, navigating the dark underbelly of the island, learning along the way the disturbing truth of Pacifica’s early history, the far-reaching influence of its egomaniacal leader, and the possible plot to murder some of the island’s first inhabitants–including her mother.

From  publisher’s website

I LOVE dysopic stories that start right in the middle of things. We don’t get to see what happened to make things they way there are. We don’t get long explanations of what’s what. And that’s how America Pacifica starts. We’re immediately thrown into Darcy world. No preamble, no explanation. Just – splat! – there it is. It really gave the story a sense of immediacy in the beginning that continued throughout the book.

I love how the world that Darcy lives in, the poverty that she experiences day after day is the back drop for the mystery of her mother’s disappearance. There’s more than meets the eye with both the island AND Darcy’s mother and North weaves the two together wonderfully. Nothing ever feels force or fake. Every word, every phrase is believable.

I loved Darcy and the way that North wrote her. She isn’t a super hero. She isn’t a super whiny teen. She’s an average girl who has to do above average things to get what she wants. And what she wants is to know what happened to her mother.

This isn’t a happy little story with a nice, happy little ending. Bad shit goes down. But not in a sensational way. Nothing is done for shock factor although there are some shocking things in America Pacifica.

This is a very nitty gritty dystopia, but it didn’t leave me feeling depressed. I think this is a testament to the talent of the writer. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more from North.

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