Carnivals and amusement parks have always fascinated me, and it's because of their duality . A carnival during the day is bright and ch...

The Getaway

Carnivals and amusement parks have always fascinated me, and it's because of their duality. A carnival during the day is bright and cheerful, filled with kids, but at night it's lit up for the adults, and can often be dark and seedy with beer tents, and in the olden days - "cooch shows". Freaks, geeks, and fortune tellers were just a small part of the sordid goings-on. I've watched Carnivale, Freaks, Nightmare Alley, and read Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (btw it is super f*cked up. It's one of the few books I own, AND have read at least twice. What can I say? I like f'ed up stories.)

There are giant amusement park rides filled with life - people, sights, sounds, and smells in their heyday, compared to empty amusement parks left to rot. i.e. one of the many is Chernobyl's Pripyat Amusement Park. I can watch urban explorer footage and pictures of abandoned amusement parks for hours. 

I've been to Cedar Point, Six Flags, the Erie County Fair, Universal Studios, but the king is Walt Disney World. It's a place created to be "the happiest place on earth" and it truly is a world in itself, with a huge amount of staff scrambling to make every visitor's experience perfect. They work in underground tunnels, running everything as smoothly as possible, like the "haves" above ground and "have-nots" below. This brings me to my book review of The Getaway by Lamar Giles. He's known for kids and young adult books but has written some thrillers too, and I'd categorize The Getaway under horror.

***Mostly spoiler free review***

It's the story of a place in the not too distant future similar to Disney called Karloff Country. Although it's even more excessive with its own energy grid, food production, and community. It's located in Virginia, since global warming has destroyed the coastlines. The book follows four high school students that live on the premises. Their lifestyle feels safe for a few years until it's not. Outside the walls of their sheltered commune, are food shortages causing riots, capital uprisings and more. Karloff Country goes into lockdown. The elite trustees are the ones trying to make Karloff their perfect refuge to hide from the chaos in the outside world. They move in to their mansions on the grounds, furthering the great divide of the rich people with abundance, and those living without food outside. The creator of the amusement park wanted the apocalypse to happen, so he could start fresh and make everything "better" only it devolves into chaos and spins out of control.

I couldn't put this book down. Just when you think the most horrific thing happens, there's more! It's written perfectly with short chapters, and some are titled after the characters indicating that they are the voice of those chapters to give you a well-rounded and clear perspective of the narrative. The characters are relatable and likeable. Giles writes black teenagers with expertise. Between chapters are snippets of marketing and ads for Karloff Country to give the story context and history. This book is timely, jarring, and there's even a reference to The Lost Boys, how could I not love this book? 

If you like Jordan Peele and his movie Get Out, you'll like this. It has a similar vibe and I can't recommend it enough.