This was a review request and sadly it didn’t work out for me, I read until about 22% where I DNF’d. I’ll leave a brief review and if it sounds like your kind of thing check it out!
A young, newly wed couple are leaving the United States in search for a better life, they fell on hard times, Niel lost his job, they were struggling to pay the mortgage, so they are traveling to a new “country” which is really more like an enormous brick building city-state kind of like The Vatican. When they arrive at the border they are asked one last time if they would like to turn around and go back, that once they sign the papers and enter the new city they will officially denounce their US citizenship and it would be difficult to go back on the decision. It sounded very ominous, and boy was I right. They’re making a major life change, leaving behind everything they know to join this new society.
It was built by a poor mother and daughter that struck the lotto and built this place as a “haven” for outcast people – there’s no such thing as money in this society so it does have some allure to those on the outside.
When they get there, though, there’s a ceremony held in their honor, sort of, it turns out it’s an execution for the couple they are replacing. Both couples are up on a stage much like a concert facing everyone who lives in Nioba (which is like 10,000). The previous couple had broken some rules or something, and they were sliced open at the stomach to create as much bloodshed as possible. It’s “customary” in their culture to then “body surf” the bodies through the crowd to cover everyone in as much blood as possible. There was a lot of dancing, kissing, fucking, and what have you as these bodies were being passed around.
This is a world where the noble class holds complete control over the other citizens, things are rationed out based on whether the guards/nobles feel you deserve it or not. You can’t just go buy a skirt or a hoolahoop (things characters tried to barter for), everything has to be approved through the authorities. There aren’t many entertainment venues either, TV isn’t a thing here, and many people start growing tails. I didn’t get far enough in the book for an explanation on that, but it could be related to the pills the couple was forced to take upon entry.
It also follows the Princess and the Prince of this Niobian culture, and their relationship is pretty strange. He’s pretty abusive, forceful, and gets aroused by blood and it leads to some out-of-the-norm sex scenes. She does seem to love him, and it just makes me feel worse for her, not better about the whole thing. The Princess also has a very strained and one-way relationship with her mother, the Queen of this counter-culture. When she told her mother that she didn’t want to attend the executions anymore she was threatened with “replacement”.
It then switched to the POV of “Plum Cake” who is an 11 year old boy having a birthday… he ends up masturbating to hard core porn while a bunch of scientists watch and comment on how quickly he’s growing up.
It was at that point I DNF’d, I like dark stuff, but there are points I just don’t cross and that I suppose is one of my lines.
This will be for people who enjoy reading books that go outside the normal realms of dark or strange.