Neon Empire showcases masterful worldbuilding, giving us a setting that’s impossible to look away from. The story itself follows multiple characters as they interact with the city, all following their own story lines as they search for answers or fame or the next big break. It’s the city of Eutopia that stands out on every page, always inserting itself in some humorous or larger than life way. I love when setting takes a front seat along with storytelling, and this novel fits that bill expertly.
This is a city designed entirely for pleasure at every turn. We actually get to see snippets of the early days, watching as groups of marketers and developers figure out how to create the most addictive version of an adult theme park they can possibly come up with. Thus, Eutopia is born and becomes the destination for anyone looking to forget their old life at the city limits. Every street corner is a mix of European streets and monuments, mixed with enormous billboards and advertisements for sex-on-demand services, gambling, social media, and a special drug that keeps the party going for days on end. I was continuously amazed at the author’s inventiveness as the characters walk through the various parts of the city. Even when the city takes a backseat to the story, it’s so loud and proud of itself that it always pushes its way into the limelight, filling your mind with its many distractions.
Overall, Neon Empire is an excellent book with an interesting story and one of the most detailed settings I’ve seen. It’s a fascinating read through and through.
By Drew Minh
Rare Bird Books
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.