America Pacifica, written by Jezebel blogger Anna North, is about the end of the world. As such, you might expect it to be dark and cynical. On the first count, you would be right. North paints a gruesome picture of post-ice age America–complete with class warfare, synthetic everything, and violence, violence everywhere. On the latter count, however, you would be wrong.
There is something palpably brave and idealistic about North’s badass female protagonist, Darcy. As she navigates seedy back alleys, sleazy authority figures, and hunger, poverty, and corruption to save her mom and, in a sense, society at-large, one gets the sense that she is a new kind of hero. Darcy is someone within whom outrage and complexity intermingle, someone who makes tough, impure decisions, someone who operates from both muscle, head, and heart. By facing her worst fears, she is emboldened and changed. It seems that’s what North is most interested:
I wrote America Pacifica because I was excited about the end of the world. Not excited to see it happen, necessarily, but excited to think about it, excited to read about it, and excited to watch it on TV. I loved Battlestar Galactica, Children of Men, Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest – anything set in the future, especially if that future found society as we know it in decline or fall. I liked to think about the end of things because that was when humans would all be tested, when they would have to use skills they’d never been taught and hang together with people they never thought they’d know. I wrote America Pacifica because I wanted to talk about these kinds of tests, and also about how, through them, a person can become a hero.
This book is visionary, surprising, completely original, and totally absorbing. Anna North is, without a doubt, a dystopian feminist novelist in the tradition of Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Margaret Atwood. I can’t wait to see what she does next.