Book Review: "America Pacifica" by Anna North

Summary from Eighteen-year-old Darcy lives on the island of America Pacifica--one of the last places on earth that is still habitable, after North America has succumbed to a second ice age. Education, food, and basic means of survival are the province of a chosen few, while the majority of the island residents must struggle to stay alive. The rich live in "Manhattanville" mansions made from the last pieces of wood and stone, while the poor cower in the shantytown slums of "Hell City" and "Little Los Angeles," places built out of heaped up trash that is slowly crumbling into the sea. The island is ruled by a mysterious dictator named Tyson, whose regime is plagued by charges of corruption and conspiracy.

But to Darcy, America Pacifica is simply home--the only one she's ever known. In spite of their poverty she lives contentedly with her mother, who works as a pearl diver. It's only when her mother doesn't come home one night that Darcy begins to learn about her past as a former "Mainlander," and her mother's role in the flight from frozen California to America Pacifica. Darcy embarks on a quest to find her mother, navigating the dark underbelly of the island, learning along the way the disturbing truth of Pacifica's early history, the far-reaching influence of its egomaniacal leader, and the possible plot to murder some of the island's first inhabitants--including her mother.

While dystopia has been all the rage in young adult books recently, I've yet to come across many that have drawn to me in the adult market. I was intrigued by this one due to the premise as well as because I trust the imprint that the book comes from.

The world Darcy has grown up in is not a happy world. Due to an ice age (which I never felt got truly explained), her world is considerably smaller and more class oriented than how we live now. The majority of food that the non-rich consumes is made out of jellyfish and real meat is a luxury that only the richest can afford. Most people live in squalor with no hope of getting out of the living conditions they are in. Darcy lives with her mother and together the two have struggled to survive for years on their own.

One day, her mother goes missing and Darcy does everything she can to try and find her. As she does this, she discovers the origins of her mother's past and the companions her mother had before having Darcy. It's a good look into politics, social issues and how humans act when they are desperate. There are situations in this book that are very hard to read at times so it's not necessarily a pleasure read. One thing I was appreciative of is that there is no romance in this book so that angle is not present to distract Darcy from her search.

I enjoyed this novel until I got to the last quarter of the book. I felt the pace of the book had been going steady and it was almost like a mystery/suspense novel as we went along with Darcy to discover what happened to her mother. Then all of a sudden I felt that the book went a totally different direction and I lost my footing and never regained balance. The ending completely threw me for a loop and, while I hate to admit it, I didn't get it. I hate that feeling of not being able to understand the ending of a story and it makes me really sad because up until the last 1/4 I was really enjoying the book.

Overall this was a very interesting book to read. As I said before it's difficult to read at times and the ending leaves me a little cold. Still, most of the book really makes you think and I enjoyed the time I spent with Darcy on her quest.

America Pacifica by Anna North is published by Reagan Arthur Books (2011)

This ARC was provided by the publisher


  1. I hate when I feel like I didn't get something in a book too. You've made me curious about the ending of this one.


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