Orange City, by Lee M. Goldberg

bebopthebunny's review

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dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


quirkycatsfatstacks's review

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From the moment I saw Orage City, I knew I had to read it. The cover simply draws one is, and then the description further captivates. Needless to say, I signed up for the blog tour as fast as possible! And then eagerly waited for my book to arrive in the mail. It was worth the wait.

Orange City is a dark and twisted beast – in all of the best ways possible. To compare it to 1984 would be fair, and it also felt familiar to Clockwork Orange in my mind. Yet it is also a wholly unique read. One that you can’t set expectations for by comparing it to any other novel on the market. It did take me a little while to get into the swing of things, when I picked it up, but once I found myself invested in the story, it simply would not let go of my mind.

It is unusual and will make you think, two things that I’ve come to treasure about books over the years. For that reason alone, I know that I will be remembering Orange City for a long time to come. I personally adored all of the debates and moral dilemmas that Lee Matthew Goldberg brought to the surface here. It makes this dystopian novel hit so much harder than it otherwise could have.

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hwright93's review

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Thank you to NetGalley for giving me an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.

This dystopian fiction has a really interesting concept - a secret city run by 'The Man' who controls everything, sees everything etc. The idea is interesting, particularly the idea with the limbs (keeping it spoiler free), but the ending was a bit flat. I felt it was escalating and then suddenly it finished. I know there's a sequel but I just didn't feel satisfied.

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jae_under's review

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Orange City is the perfect reentry to dystopian for me. I haven’t enjoyed this genre since middle grade and the previous book i read was a dystopian and i ended up giving it a 1 star, but this book really cracked something in my fantasy only brain.

The book itself is set in a futuristic America and in a hidden city flourishing with corporate and business entities, but cogently manipulated and controlled by one singular person. The city itself is a “second chance” for criminals to erase their past sins, but ofcourse the reality isn’t that simple. We follow Graham as he learns what he truly joined up to.

The beginning itself, with its eerie writing style intrigued me. This was followed by the amazing introduction to the Man, that encompassed the intricate yell alluring sci-fi aspect. Modified limbs, detailed mechanisms all splintered with amazing, scintillating characters, truly was a delightful surprise. And yet, the 22% mark with that chapter ending was what converted me to absolutely getting invested in this book!

While the plot didn’t pick up way later in the book,, nor was the basic premise anything new or unique, but what lured me was the world building. ITS SO UNIQUE and so well defined. The POW!s, a brilliant idea. We also got a lot of world building in terms of the factions, locations and politics and combined with the descriptive writing style, the orange City kept me at the edge of my seat from beginning till end.

Now with the things I didn’t like. The character work, was something I personally did not enjoy, but at the same time I wouldn’t say its bad, just I wasn’t invested in the mc. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot of depth involved with him, i just didn’t connect with the mc. The side characters, especially (apart from one other) felt one dimensional and the lack of having been invested in them, didn’t make me care about the specific events around the end of the book, which felt like the author meant them to mean something but the delivery didn’t impact me at all.

On top of this the book felt well how do i put it, very white and male centered. Almost all the women (yep from the very few women in the book) are sexually or romantically connected to the mc. This paired with the insta love trope really lost me as a reader around the 70% mark. There’s also this sense that anything this main character did was brushed off when it came to the romantic interest and this was written in the male pov while there are scenes of abuse and other questionable scenes that again was addressed as “okay” which again goes back to this being very male centered. Then again almost the entire cast, are criminals so this could be the way gray morality was represented, it just doesn’t mean i have to like it, and i don’t.

Yep thats my two cents on the book, the world building is still a very cool aspect and I definitely would ask people to pick this up if they like dystopian!

Thank you to Atmosphere Press for granting me with an ARC in exchange of an honest review via NetGalley

coffeedogsbooks's review

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Wow this was an amazing book. Part dystopian, part mystery, part scifi, it really defies genres. “The Man” runs an island where those who would have been sent to prison can live out their lives, basically in servitude hoping to earn their way to the “elite homes” and paradise and always in fear of exile to the zones. Graham has been chosen to be in advertising for a new test product “Pow” a drink that can literally control your emotions based on the flavor you choose. But the more he has the more he actually sees his situation and what is going on around him but what if anything will he do about it?

While this book started out a little bit on the slower side as I tried to figure out everything that was going on (believe me there's more to it than you think) once I was sucked in I consumed this book in one sitting. This was a unique concept to me in this type of genre and I enjoyed it.

I give this one a 4 of 5 and thank Suzy’s Approved Book Tours and Lee Matthew Goldberg for the review copy. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

margot_meanders's review

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I received a copy of the book for an honest review. I thank Blackthorn Tours for my copy.

What will you do to fight for yourself, if at all? Is it better to say shackled as a mindless, comfortable cypher, afraid to act, or take matters into your own hand? The protagonists of Orange City tackle this problem in different ways.

The shortest way I'd describe this book is lurid dystopian pulp fiction.

When the main protagonist, Graham, gets a chance to leave his life behind, little does he know what forces stand behind his fate. Without realising that he is the chosen one, he becomes one of many faces living in the City controlled by a mysterious creature, its dictator who decides everyone’s fate.

Graham’s closest surrounding consists of E - his boss, Gayle with her own, underdeveloped, problems, a rowdy buddy Mick, and a beautiful intern Marlena - Graham has developments with her that didn’t feel very authentic or organic to me. Like there just had to be something between them and I rolled my eyes. The players are set up, Graham is given a special task - test new soda flavours. This opens up a whole new set of experiences, including vivid dreams and pretty wild behaviour that leads him to suspect something is afoul. The plot takes Graham from a poor pawn to a rebel, fighting forces he had little idea about.

What I liked

The city is grungy and lurid, but world building too, while organic, still feels like it could be something more. Influences from classic dystopias are felt, I even thought back to the Sturgatsky brothers’ ”The Roadside Picnic” when the story mentioned the Zones, which, in this case, are areas where certain humans are discarded. The lore and worldbuilding, the concept, were on the interesting side.

There is one scene I liked and that was how the hospital scene with Graham was foreshadowed; for all the negatives I’ve found, the world and plot have logic and consequence.

Fast-paced, quick read.

What I disliked

The writing is racy, full of F-bombs (way too many for me) and references like erect dicks, those appear early and the descriptions relating to sex, while not the worst I’ve seen, are still pretty annoying to me. This took my interest away because I just don’t like such things. For me, it’s not intimacy that’s described, it’s more like gratification. It’s the kind of book that has characters visit shady bars, have rowdy fun.. Such references appear a lot, too early and are pretty offputting. I like to think it was meant to highlight the pulpiness, grunginess, hopelessness and the dirt of this microworld, but well...this sort of style just isn’t me. I wished the story would have placed its focus somewhere else instead, there were more interesting aspects to develop a little more. I’m also pretty mad at the book for referencing Anne Frank’s Diary in a crude way.. One of the characters refers to “The Diarrhoea of Anne Frank”. That upset me a great deal.

None of the characters is strongly interesting to me. They are simple and the plot moves fast. The Man who controls the city, the main villain in the story, as expected, is over the top; he’s a Russian-born agent of evil with a peculiar defect. There are three more characters I thought more interesting because they appeared at the right time in the plot to add a little twist, and what they have to say is the climax of the story for Graham, but they were too schematic and forgettable in the end.

The story touches on unsettling aspects of today’s reality - corporate America, controlling what people do, even to the point of inserting memory chips, modifying people’s memories, and an attempt to refer to Stalinism, albeit I found it all a little too cursory for my tastes.

In short, lore, concept and world-building are interesting, if stil perfunctory, but downplayed by cursory plotting, crudeness, and pretty schematic characterisation. I think I got my hopes too high due to comparisons with 1984. It’s not really quite there at all for me.

The book ends on a cliffhanger which shows this is something bigger, and Orange City might just be one of many enclaves, worlds within the world - and it might be exciting to visit some of those other worlds.

The world-building and concepts touch on relevant issues. I feel like it would work very well as a game or a comic.

For me, the concept is entertaining, but the vulgarity diminished its overall reception. I wish the execution was more on the literary side for this one. But it is a quick read oozing luridness in its dystopian intent. But you must come in expecting a pretty pulp fiction style. This wasn’t for me, all in all.

pageturnersandsweettea's review

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When I give a review, I like to be open and honest about it. So, that's what this review will be. Honest. Open. When I sat down to read this, I was honestly not sure I would enjoy this read. I'm not big on the dystopian, sci fi reads. However, from time to time, I branch out of my comfort zone and find ones that I can thoroughly enjoy, that really grip me and make me glad that I sat down to read it. Orange City was that novel. I sat down, gave it a chance and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the story! 

Goldberg created an interesting plot line and filled it with unique and captivating characters. There are twists and turns, ups and downs, and by the end of the book, if you weren't a dystopian fan before, you certainly will be after reading Goldberg's masterpiece. His characters are as unique as the story itself, making you feel a part of their lives, learning  their ways in their new lives in this city the can never leave, seeing their second chances come to life. 

Orange City is definitely different but one I'm glad I gave a try. It's a 4 star read, and will keep you guessing through out. The first in it's series, I am highly looking forward to reading more like it from this truly talented author. He has definitely made a fan out of me and I look forward to sharing about it with others. If you are a fan of out of this world strangeness, mixed with thought provoking scenes and uniquely chiseled characters, Orange City is the one you need to read. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Author/Publisher and was under no obligation to post a review, positive or negative.*

littlebirdbooks's review

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I received a copy of this book as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

What if I told you that there was a secret city for those on the fringes of society where you can belong? Regardless of whether you are a felon or simply an outcast of the Outside World. There’s just one catch, you can never leave. This city is ruled by ‘The Man’ a monstrous dictator figure in more ways than one. What may seem like salvation at first begins to change as the citizens learn to blindly follow this figure in order to avoid being sent to the Empty Zones. Graham arrived in the City ten years ago, however it’s working on a new advertising campaign that is slowly opening his eyes to how he simply swapped one prison for another…

One of the most interesting aspects about this book was that none of the characters were particularly likeable, however that isn’t a bad thing at all when it comes to this novel. It doesn’t feel like they’re supposed to be likeable, apart from Graham at times, which makes them all very complicated and dark which is perfect for the world that Goldberg has created. The fact that a lot of the characters are so extreme in their negative behaviour (even including Graham) that was addictive to read itself. It was quite difficult to put the book down as I just wanted to see what E or ‘The Man’ would do next.

Additionally, Goldberg creates tension and suspense through quick, almost frantic, poetry on Graham is thrown from one day to the next, seemingly completely unaware that anything is wrong. I did enjoy the pacing for the most part of the novel, I did feel that the ending was a little rushed without much breathing space from the reveal to the end. flavour as this is the first novel in a series we can expect to see more of the ending expanded upon.

This novel, this world, feels very much like a combination of George Orwell and Brett Easton Ellis. We’re introduced to this very dystopian dictatorship, however unlike Oceania in 1984, the citizens are under the impression they can do whatever they live outside of work which feels reminiscent of Less Than Zero. I did enjoy how brutal this world was and it does fit with the character that we’re introduced to. I would have hiked a little more world building, however, as I mentored this is the first in a series so it is likely that we will see more of this in future installments.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and read it in one sitting as the brutality of this dystopia was a really refreshing read. Goldberg is clearly a talented writer with clever plot details and through making a novel with unlikeable characters still fun and interesting to read. If you are a fan of dystopian fiction, or Brett Easton Ellis then you should check this novel out and the rest of the series. Although, with the way Orange City ends you’ll be itchy to get your hands on Lemonworld.

writeramyshannon's review

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A grand dystopian mixed with sci-fi

Goldberg pens a grand and unique Post-apocalyptic story in Orange City. I haven't read anything from this author before, and I really enjoyed it. The characters were intense, raw, and some not even human. Orange City is kind of liked the Eagles "Hotel California", where you can stay, get whatever you want, but never leave. It's a wonderfully written story, and there were definite twists and those things that you never saw coming. I like the way that Goldberg thinks, his imagination spread out on pages that are more than just words, but a story like no other that I've read. I get why it's called Orange City, and that just adds the extra punch that this story deserves. The story brings in the believable, even if almost impossible. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). A very well-written story, and I really loved it. The title drew me in, but the story made me stay. The author's technique of intense characters and great plotlines is a gift. It's a rollercoaster story, yet easy to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. Very unpredictable. I look forward to reading many more stories by this author. Orange City is a definite recommendation by Amy's Bookshelf Reviews.

0range's review

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A pretty good dystopian novel. The concept is interesting and different. It’s a city in the middle of nowhere controlled by a sufficiently gross and creepy villain; he watches everyone all the time. People always feel like they’ve gotten into some exclusive club when they first arrive, but they gradually become disillusioned and the reality that they will never be allowed to leave really sets in. The protagonist, Graham, is chosen as the guinea pig for a new soda. The soda is used very creatively to control and manipulate the population. I thought the various effects of different flavors and their corresponding colors was cool and well explored. Character development was weak, but it is going to be a series so I imagine they’ll be given room to grow. The two women were so similar that I for the first half of the book I got them confused several times. The way they were written they could literally be the same person. Other than that I don’t really have much criticism; the ending was strong and set up the next installment very well. I would definitely read the next book.

I received an advance copy for free from BookSirens, and am leaving this review voluntarily.