Rated 5 stars ***** ARC.
Seventeen-year-old Jay, along with his friends Zeke, Connie and Chelle live in Karloff Country. Soon after moving there they met Chelle, the half-Black heiress of Karloff Country, who was looked down on by her grandfather because of her race. Their friendliness helped ground her when being the half-Black granddaughter of the richest and most racist man around became too much to handle. From then on the four of them were inseparable.
People come to Karloff Country to enjoy rides, costumed characters, themed park areas, restaurants, resorts and more. Those who live and work within its protective walls are safe from the food shortages and hunger they experienced before moving there with their families. Everyone’s needs are taken care of while AI technology keeps everything running smoothly. Life is good, until suddenly it’s not.
Things started to go downhill when Connie and her family disappeared. Then jet planes started to land, followed by everyone getting locked in their homes for a few days. The world outside the walls of Karloff Country had collapsed into chaos, and no one inside was allowed to leave. Life inside Karloff Country was expected to continue as usual, with one change. The billionaires and millionaires who had flown in were now considered Trustees, so everyone who worked at Karloff Country is at their beck and call for ANYTHING they want them to do. If any worker dares to resist, the Trustee’s real fun begins and their lives might end. Welcome to Karloff Country, “the funnest place on Earth.”
Though this is a dystopian novel, taking place many years in the future, it was very scary to think our world could end up in the way it was described. The workers unable to leave Karloff Country reminded me of lyrics from the Eagle’s Hotel California song: “You can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave.” Cliffhanger endings make this a quick read, and teen readers will stay hooked until the last page. I think a sequel might be in order, and look forward to reading it.
Recommended for ages 16 and older.