Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

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Monday, April 23, 2012


Socialpunk, Monica Leonelle, Spaulding House Publishing, 2011

First of a trilogy, this novel is about a near-future world ravaged by environmental collapse. As usual, things are not always what they seem to be.

Ima is a teenage girl of Asian ancestry living in the domed city of Chicago. Leaving the city is forbidden, because outside conditions are so bad. It is the year 2052, and Chicago is cut off from the rest of the world, because satellite access has been lost. Ima sneaks out of her parent's apartment, and attends a downtown party with Dash, the love of her life. At the party, she meets Nahum, a recent immigrant from Dubai. The rare immigrants to the city are mind-locked, preventing them from remembering anything about their lives before entering the city. Ima and Nahum are suddenly pulled outside by Vaughn, a mysterious young man in a black hoodie, just before the party venue is destroyed in a huge explosion.

Told that they are in a lot of danger, the two join Vaughn on the subway, and travel past what Ima thinks is the last stop on the line, outside of the city. The part about environmental collapse is true (the world's population has been reduced by more than 90 percent), but, otherwise, everything that Ima knows is a lie. Silicon City of the year 2198 revolves around the creation and dissemination of art. The city is in the middle of a huge controversy about the length of copyright. Most times, people ingest pills for nourishment instead of eating real food. Ima and Nahum join Vaughn's "hash," or gang, called the Socialpunks (they have little choice). Everyone in the city has been "upgraded" with things like bionic eyes, superhuman strength, etc., so Ima and Nahum get similar modifications (again, they have little choice).

Domed Chicago, what Ima knows as home, is going to be destroyed very soon, so Ima insists that the few remaining Socialpunks rescue Dash, who, Ima is sure, loves her as much as she loves him. Complications ensue.

There may be echoes of other such novels here, but this is still a very worthy addition to the cyberpunk/dystopian genre. This might work best as a Young Adult book, or as an introduction for people who are new to the genre. 

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