On an island nation created after North America is ravaged by a new Ice Age, 18-year-old Darcy uncovers dark secrets about her homeland and its past when her mother Sarah goes missing.
North's richly imagined first novel is set several decades from now on the island of America Pacifica, located somewhere west of Hawaii and under threat of invader ships from the former 50th state. One of the only inhabitable places left in the world, it features facsimile towns like Manhattanville, Little Los Angeles and Upper Chicagoland that mirror cities past. Darcy, a waitress, lives a hand-to-mouth existence with Sarah, a pearl diver by trade, in a leaky apartment. Her mother, who arrived on the first boat from the mainland as a child, pointedly refuses to talk about her previous life. As she investigates Sarah's disappearance, Darcy is slowly awakened to the island's despotic rule, under which most citizens eat imitation turkey (jellyfish), seaweed salad and egg "product" while a privileged few living in exclusive areas dine on real steak and potatoes. Darcy also learns about a mainland visionary whose ideas so threaten the ruling powers, they are determined to kill people like Sarah who knew or had any connections with him. After she befriends radicals with plans to overthrow the aging ruler and his fake board of governors, Darcy becomes a prime target. North, a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is a stylish writer and a good storyteller who keeps the pages turning. Even as it utilizes some standard retro-future devices, the novel downplays science fiction in favor of a naturalistic and even realistic narrative. As plucky and resourceful as she is melancholic and vulnerable, Darcy is a likable heroine, and the supporting characters add to the book's flavor with their quirks.
An entertaining, stylishly written doomsday novel.