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Dystopian heaven! A. M. Wilson’s Populace is a must-read for dystopian fans. The protagonist, Tom, is a resident of Omaha in the New United States (NUSA). This is a city plagued by corporate monopoly and government control while holding its citizens under a drug-induced zombie fog that causes them to tolerate injustice. Tom is different. Through the drug-haze, he feels the slight tug of emotions; this separates him from the rest. You see, Tom is pretty successful despite being born among the proletariat—the down-trodden. He has a good life, a good job with the Leviathan Corporation, and a gorgeous fiancee from an elite family, but he is not fulfilled. Tom is selected for a mission by the highest authority in his country; this is the turning point—something ain’t right. Doubt creeps in, and then the emotional strain of knowing that everything he’s been taught is a lie. What is the NUSA? What is the Leviathan Corporation? Who is Tom and where did he really come from? Is he a successful and proud citizen of the NUSA, or is he a man without a country?

One of my favorite parts of this novel is the characterization of Tom. His journey is comparable to a sheltered teenager who is sent off to college—navigating a whole new universe. He is oblivious to world affairs; the only family he really knows, his company, has lied to him—he is facing an identity crisis. At one point, he reads furiously—hungry for knowledge. He even takes a vow of silence during his studies. Because he has been controlled for so long, he isn’t sure of himself. He doesn’t know what he wants. Even when asked something as simple as “would you like a drink?” Tom wavers. As a matter of fact, it is common for Tom to shrug or even cry when questioned. His child-like qualities are further revealed when he learns to lie about his origins; his truth is not accepted—his existence not acknowledged. How can he conquer his identity crisis when he has had to escape his home and even his new-found hideout?

My only complaint—the epilogue is not detailed enough. What happens to the populace? I believe several stories are wrapped up in this one novel. Wilson has a series in the making.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 384 pages
Publish Date 2018-Mar-01
ISBN 0978198506675
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue October 2018
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy


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