Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism

Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism

by David Nickle

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The year is 1911.

In Cold Spring Harbour, New York, the newly formed Eugenics Records Office is sending its agents to catalogue the infirm, the insane, and the criminal—with an eye to a cull, for the betterment of all.

Near Cracked Wheel, Montana, a terrible illness leaves Jason Thistledown an orphan, stranded in his dead mother’s cabin until the spring thaw shows him the true meaning of devastation—and the barest thread of hope.

At the edge of the utopian mill town of Eliada, Idaho, Doctor Andrew Waggoner faces a Klansman’s noose and glimpses wonder in the twisting face of the patient known only as Mister Juke.

And deep in a mountain lake overlooking that town, something stirs, and thinks, in its way: Things are looking up.

Eutopia follows Jason and Andrew as together and alone, they delve into the secrets of Eliada—industrialist Garrison Harper's attempt to incubate a perfect community on the edge of the dark woods and mountains of northern Idaho. What they find reveals the true, terrible cost of perfection—the cruelty of the surgeon's knife—the folly of the cull—and a monstrous pact with beings that use perfection as a weapon, and faith as a trap.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781926851945
Publisher: ChiZine Publications
Publication date: 04/10/2012
Series: The Book of the Juke Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 321
Sales rank: 245,332
File size: 525 KB
Age Range: 15 Years

About the Author

David Nickle is the author of numerous short stories and several novels, including Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, Rasputin's Bastards, and The 'Geisters. He lives in Toronto, where he works as a journalist, covering Toronto City Hall for Metroland Media Toronto.

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Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Ellonkah More than 1 year ago
I am not much for historical novels. While a delight for some, the intricacies of days past do not enhance literature for me. The interesting thing about this novel, set in 1911, is that the year has almost no bearing on the story itself. Lanterns are carried and medical equipment is nothing like the beeping plastic robots of today, but other than a tidbit here and there historical setting has no almost bearing on this book. I didn't dislike this book, but I couldn't fall in love with it either. The story foundation was solid, but poorly-developed and shallow. Not because the author was unskilled, but perhaps because he limited himself too much. Another 100 or even 200 pages and this novel could have been so much more...with all those pages being dedicated to more details about Jason's late father, life in Cracked Wheel "before," Germaine Frost's medical/scientific background and development, and of course the relationship between Ruth and Jason. Those details would have changed this book from a child tugging at your aprons to a force that knocks you off your feet. Easy to read and decently structured, I do give it 3/5 stars. The jump from 3 to 5 stars could have been done so effortlessly (in my opinion) with this groundwork having been laid. The lost potential is truly what drags it down for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good character buildup...very odd premise, strange story, highly unusual!
Bibliotropic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ah, the good old days. Where people dropped N-bombs with impunity, where doctors gave out morphine for broken bones, and where the improvement of the human race was worked on by sterilizing the feeble-minded and the crippled.The title of this book is a deliberate and disturbing pun, referencing a path to utopia via eugenics, the selective culling of the less desirable aspects of the human race. If only the best exist and breed, then only the best babies will be born. At least in theory. Eugenics in itself is a chilling subject, and is mostly known as part of the Nazi agenda, but people don't often realize that the Nazis were not the first to experiment with it. Just one of the most villified and thus the most famous. David Nickle acknowledges and plays with this fact by having the book set in American shortly after the turn of the 20th century. We follow the joint stories of Jason and Andrew, the former an orphan and only surviver of a plague that qiped out his hometown, the latter a black doctor hated by some and tolerated by others, as more and more of the secrets of Eliada's so-called utopian ideals are unveiled in a truly disturbing fashion.If there's any real flaw in this book, it's the transparency of the author's writing. It was clear to me very early on that Germaine was not Jason's aunt, and obvious also that Jason's discovery of this was supposed to surprise the reader also. I felt no surprise, just a faint sense of, "I saw that coming half a book ago." It was mostly this that counted against the book in terms of a final rating, for if some things had been less obvious, there might have been more of a sense of edge-of-your-seat suspense and drama going on.But while nothing may have come as a surprise, that does not mean that it was all smooth sailing. Nickle has a real talent for writing disturbing and frightening scenes, not all of which rely on blood and gore to make their impression. The book was written with cinematic clarity, in a style that left little or no doubt as to what's going on and how you're supposed to see it.The book's ending also felt weak and rushed, and not so much open-ended as unfinished. The heroes get away, but don't go too far from where all the horror of Eliada and the Jukes took place. We never really do get to find out just what was going on with the Jukes, nor what they were or what their purpose was. It would be easy to dismiss them as mindless monsters if it hadn't been demonstrated that they possess a fierce cunning, a culture and drive and interaction with humans that can't be dismissed so easily.Still, in spite of the flaws it contained, it was still a good book, presenting a terrifying image of our past even when you exclude the monsters! Nickle is definitely an author to keep an eye on, and a real treat for casual horror fans!
eliendriel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting when I read this book. From reviews and from the jacket, I thought I was getting a provoking, unique thriller sort of novel, something that evoked images of horror while challenging preconceptions. What I got was... well.. Was a well-written, fast-paced novel that at times really understood itself very well, and at other times, lost itself in attempting to create moments simply for the sake of having them. The two main characters, Andrew Waggoner and Jason Thistledown, are extremely compelling, if at times a little one-dimensional - there really should be limits to the times and ways they just wind up in the right place at the right time. Sam, the main Pinkerton, is another at times believable character who has to suffer through some moments of cardboard cutout-ness. The Jukes, while never adequately explored nor fully recognized, are at the very least intriguing and their powers of creating a shared community are pivotal for driving the ending of the novel. But some of the other characters (Germaine and Dr. Bergstrom, for example) are simply tools to move the narrative, and never really seem "real". However, Nickle's writing is clear and effective, written with an eye for creating an atmosphere that certainly is unique. Overall, however, I guess I don't know how I feel about it - I didn't regret reading it, neither did I feel ... moved, or changed, or impressed... by the tale.
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