Populace by A.M. Wilson is set in the year 2151 after the United States has gone through a tremendous change. Our main character, Tom Stout, lives in the center of the New United States, Omaha. This entire city survives by keeping the population on a cocktail of drugs that can both suppress emotions and also force them to feel euphoric or a variety of other positive emotions. When Tom is tasked with a special mission he finds himself on a journey he never imagined.
Initially Populace feels like a futuristic version of American Psycho, with Tom sharing his internal monologue on the issues he has with Omaha and the company he works for that runs everything, Leviathan. When he is sent outside of Omaha to find the wanted terrorist Joe Ikowski. This is when Populace shifts into a story that feels like the Odyssey. Tom learns that there are places in America that aren’t controlled by Leviathan and that people live lives that vary tremendously from what he experienced. On his journey he becomes involved with people fighting against Leviathan as well as the over medication and industrialization of the country and through this he learns who he truly is and the man that he can be.
I enjoyed the intense amount of world building in Populace. Wilson creates not just one world, but a plethora of them and each one has their own individual way of life. I would have liked to spend more time understanding Leviathan and their work, though Wilson does work to add additional information about Tom’s life throughout the story. Each of these cities could receive their own novel and I am very curious to see what will happen to Tom and the people living within the New United States after the events in the Epilogue. If you are a fan of futuristic worlds and Orwellian inspired writing you should check out Populace today.
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