Welcome to one of the March 26th stops on the blog tour for Orange City by Lee Matthew Goldberg, organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours. Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour for excerpt spotlights, other reviews, guest posts by the author, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Orange City Book One
by Lee Matthew Goldberg
Published 16 March 2021
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 308
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Imagine a secret, hidden City that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the City forever. You can never leave.
Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the “Man” who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the Man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.
After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.
A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, Orange City is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel Lemonworld.
Part I: The Selected
At six on the dot, the gloved cellular let out a piercing ring. A timer turned on, ticking down with each buzz. E wouldn’t have long to remain idle. The entire pod apartment vibrated, and his capsule bed slid open. The white ceiling drew his attention, the walls devoid of color, a minimalist’s fantasy—nothing like a home.
Shades of the dream from last night still lingered. His knuckles painted with blood as he beat a shadow. The voice of the shadow belonging to a ten-year-old boy. The boy’s cries stabbing E’s ears. He shook that dream away.
He removed the intravenous tube that connected him to his bed and switched off the cooling mist which allowed him to slumber for days. He stretched his old bones, his hair standing up in a state of white shock like it had since he was a young man. Swinging his thick legs over the side of the bed, he yawned at the morning before finally answering his cell.
“I’ll be right there,” he coughed into the digital eye on his gloved palm.
He removed the glove and pushed a button on the side of the bed. Doors opening along the wall revealed a sliver of a kitchen with a piping pot of subpar and gritty coffee brewing on the counter— the best offered to the Scouts— and two sizzling poached eggs from a suspect source. He scarfed down the eggs and pushed another button to raise the shades along the lone wall facing east. The heart of The City hovered in the near distance, its new buildings staggering on one end like giant colorful stalagmites. Sipping his black coffee, he watched it in motion as he did every morning.
Between the Scouts and the rest of The City lay a half a mile of ice water. The City was made up of many Regions, his situated on the outskirts. Sometimes he wondered what it would be like to fall into those frosty waters and drift off to wherever it might choose to take him, no longer having to shuttle between The City and the faraway Outside World anymore. But instead of a dramatic suicide, he suited up and headed through the tunnel with a suitcase in hand like he had for twenty years. He’d convinced himself long ago that living here was better than rotting in prison like he would’ve been if they hadn’t selected him. At least he was still able to get lost in a bottle of whiskey or feel the sun against his cheek during the few instances it was allowed to peek through the chronic clouds. Even though The City was far from ideal, the Outside World remained definitely worse. It reminded him too often of the man he used to be and of the terrible sins he’d committed. These thoughts returned at the beginning of every week while he geared up for another one, as he wondered if one day the Man in the Eye might give him a promotion and he wouldn’t have to be a Scout anymore.
That way, he’d never have to return to the Outside World.
Then, he could possibly be at peace, like all The City’s inhabitants wished.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Consider liking my review on Goodreads.
I was granted complimentary access to Orange City via NetGalley and also as part of my participation in the blog tour for this title with Silver Dagger Book Tours. Thank you to all involved in granting me this opportunity. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
So, you know how when you get a group of people with varying political leanings to talk about criminal punishment someone eventually suggests an isolated city to put all the criminals and undesirables and leave them to their own devices? This is that city. It’s a gritty, dark urban landscape run by sociopaths at the top and drug-addicted victims at the bottom.
Graham is one of those victims. A meek man suffering from intense untreated PTSD, Graham is plucked up by his boss as the soda company to serve as taste tester for their new line. What Graham isn’t told as he’s sent home with hundreds of cans of colourful fizzy drinks is that he’s about to become hopelessly addicted to a new drug that quite literally colours his world.
The way prosthetics work in this world, being almost indistinguishable from the live limbs and other body parts they replace, is fascinating. I kind of wish Graham had observed these more while sober because he’s always questioning what he sees and I want to know what was and wasn’t true about this technology. (I suppose you could say Graham is a classic “unreliable narrator” in his sections.)
Goldberg writes broken and respectable people extremely well, and this is both what I loved about this book and what I didn’t. Obviously based on the concept presented in the synopsis I wasn’t expecting angels but I was not prepared for how much I would hate these people. We’re supposed to, most of them are not written to be sympathetic or redeamble, but wow! I’m so glad that Graham at least was pitiable or I might not have may have been tempted to put these characters down and not pick them back up again. I know that sounds rather negative, but I want to emphasize that this is exactly how the characters are supposed to be because that’s what this city was built on. I underestimated my ability to hang out in those heads for 300 pages given the tight timeframe I left myself to get this tour read done in between other tour reads. I think I would have had a better time with these characters if this were one of my in between reads books that I pick my way through in between other things, taking in the characters and plot in small doses.
This is a very dark, very fresh Sci-Fi dystopian that is absolutely not for kids. I recommend this to adult fans of the genre who are prepared to spend a lot of time with a cast of characters who, for the most part, deserve all the worst possible outcomes of their actions and more.
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of THE ANCESTOR, THE DESIRE CARD, SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR from St. Martin’s Press. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. ORANGE CITY, his first sci-fi novel, is forthcoming in 2021 along with his YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Vol 1. Brooklyn, LitReactor, Necessary Fiction, Fiction Writer’s Review, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series (guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City.
One lucky follower of the tour will win a $15 Amazon giftcard and another will win an ebook copy of Orange City! (1 winner each) Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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