Author: Drew Minh
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Publication Date: 9 July 2019
Format: eBook - EPUB
Source: ARC from Publisher
Bold, colorful, and dangerously seductive, Eutopia is a new breed of hi-tech city. Rising out of the American desert, it’s a real-world manifestation of a social media network where fame-hungry desperados compete for likes and followers. But in Eutopia, the bloodier and more daring posts pay off the most. As crime rises, no one stands to gain more than Eutopia’s architects―and, of course, the shareholders who make the place possible.
This multiple-POV novel follows three characters as they navigate the city’s underworld. Cedric Travers, a has-been Hollywood director, comes to Eutopia looking for clues into his estranged wife’s disappearance. What he finds instead is a new career directing―not movies, but experiences. The star of the show: A’rore, the city’s icon and lead social media influencer. She’s panicking as her popularity wanes, and she'll do anything do avoid obscurity. Sacha Villanova, a tech and culture reporter, is on assignment to profile A’rore―but as she digs into Eutopia’s inner workings, she unearths a tangle of corporate corruption that threatens to sacrifice Cedric, A’rore, and even the city itself on the altar of stockholder greed.
There were many things I enjoyed about Neon Empire. Most notable was the premise, which does reflect a possible future world, given the way social media is heading. I liked A'rore and Cedric as characters; Sacha I found a little less well developed. Overall, the story held my interest throughout, and I was keen to see what would happen, but I would have liked something more from the ending. I had thought this was a standalone, but maybe there will be a second book, as one element of the plot remained up in the air at the conclusion. I am giving this book 3.5 stars and recommend it to readers who enjoy books set in the near future with a slight dystopian feel.
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