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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 02/2022
  • 978-1-7355495-0-7 B09QH1VPRW
  • 392 pages
  • $9.99
Hardcover Details
  • 02/2022
  • 978-1-7355495-1-4 B09QH1VPRW
  • 392 pages
  • $25.99
Marc Opsal
Author
LIFECAST
Marc Opsal, author
Welcome to LifeCast. There is no government... There is no law… There is no choice... There is only the Idol. 
 Extreme urban sprawl has resulted in one massive megalopolis simply called, “The City.” The City’s wealthiest families live in the Highland, above a freezing layer of indigo mist. Noble Valet Bear was born in the lowland, but now lives and works in the Highland as the sole servant of House Telladyne. Bear’s best friend, Aleks, was born to House Yukita, but has resisted her Noble grooming since she was young. 
 Until now, Bear has kept Aleks at a distance for fear his love might put them both in danger. Little does he know that they are about to stumble upon deeply-hidden secrets of the Idol that will threaten both of their lives. 
 In the fight to save themselves, Bear and Aleks must join forces with dangerous allies, face off against a foe who wields unimaginable power, and make the impossible choice between desire and survival.
Reviews
Kirkus Starred Review

Teen lovers battle against the economic caste system that separates them in this debut dystopian YA novel.

In The City, Noble Valet Bear is 19 years old and works for the Telladyne family. Bertram Telladyne’s pharmaceutical company provides drugs to citizens who have been neurologically enhanced with cerebral “Neurogems” and wrist “docks” for the injections. People in The City’s wealthy Highland are virtually connected and perpetually distracted. Their primary thrill in life is following the Idol, a young woman who is, according to announcer Dahlia Delachort, “our mirror, our voice, and our emissary to the future.” When Idol Vox Aslanian dies tragically, a new emissary must be chosen. The competition is held among Young Ladies from the Noble families. Among them is Lady Aleks Yukita, whom Bear has known since he was a Valet-in-training as a boy with her family. Bear adores Aleks because she is curious, passionate, and empathetic—traits the Idols tend not to possess. Aleks secretly spends time with Bear, originally a lowlander, as friends, and one night they sneak into the Monarch Estate’s archives, a trove of objects from the past. After the daring escapade, the two share their first kiss. They’ve also stolen film reels, which they’ll need help from citizens of the dangerous lowland to play. As the Idol competition heats up, Bear makes a new ally in Young Lady Marena Vexhall, who isn’t what she seems. She says that “Aleks doesn’t deserve to be the Idol. None of us do.” The sinister nature of the Idol slowly unfolds, and Bear wonders if escape from The City is possible.

Opsal’s series opener skewers today’s shallow, capitalist society by pointing to the dystopia on the horizon. While smaller in scale than the Panem of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series, The City features superb worldbuilding that will rattle modern audiences. The LifeCast technology, for example, puts users in the Idol’s viewpoint, which the vapid may find entertaining, at least until “you plummet straight down” after jumping from a building ledge, as Vox did. Another captivating element is the NApp personal downloads, augmented reality tutorials that take individuals through activities such as walking, cooking, and dancing. This is a fun yet terrifying exploration of technology catering to people’s desire to split their attention into ever smaller pieces. The casual deadliness of the class divide is revealed when Bear must drive Bertram through the advertisement-saturated lowlands. The car is armored against fire from “radicals,” and cinematic prose has Bear “pop the BT-27 into reverse and drive backward down the highway while thin, pink slices of meat cascade down the tunnel walls.” Fans of reality TV will recognize characters like Chef Casper Fiori—a play on Guy Fieri—who has “bright orange hair” and an “aggressive handshake.” Even more biting is Young Lady Kallista Telladyne’s idea for a LifeCast in which 10 lowlanders receive makeovers and go “from garbage to glam.” Immersed in such a cringe-inducing backdrop, readers will root for outcasts like Bear and Aleks to tear it all down. Frequent twists complicate the heroes’ journey and will leave readers enthralled and eager for the sequel.

A clever and cutting fantasy that takes modern society to task for its corruption.

Midwest Book Review

Extreme urban sprawl has resulted in one massive megalopolis simply called, "The City." The City's wealthiest families live in the Highland, above a freezing layer of indigo mist.

Noble Valet Bear was born in the lowland, but now lives and works in the Highland as the sole servant of House Telladyne. Bear's best friend, Aleks, was born to House Yukita, but has resisted her Noble grooming since she was young.

Until now, Bear has kept Aleks at a distance for fear his love might put them both in danger. Little does he know that they are about to stumble upon deeply-hidden secrets of the Idol that will threaten both of their lives.

In the fight to save themselves, Bear and Aleks must join forces with dangerous allies, face off against a foe who wields unimaginable power, and make the impossible choice between desire and survival.

Critique: Having an immense attraction for readers with an interest in dystopian themed novels, "Lifecast" by author Marc Opsal is a simply compelling page turner of a read from cover to cover. Original, entertaining, populated with memorable characters and more plot twists than a carnival roller coaster, "Lifecast" is a deftly crafted novel -- the kind from which blockbuster movies are made! While highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lifecast" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
 

Words and Malarky

An exhilarating futuristic dystopian with captivating worldbuilding, great characters, and a well-structured plot.

Lifecast is a futuristic dystopian with such captivating and immersive worldbuilding I would often forget I was reading. Yeah, you heard that right.

This book did an incredible job painting a vivid, opulent, high-tech future world with well-placed details that made sense within its internal logic. Also, the naming schemes and futuristic slang weren’t obnoxious. (If you read a lot of dystopian and sci-fi, you’ll know this is a huge compliment.)

But what really made this book’s execution shine was the author’s writing style: Clear, crisp, and short of a few technical errors, astoundingly professional. It also had one of the most well-paced plots I’ve read in a long time. It moved quickly without disorienting you and incorporated relevant information without exposition-dumping. If this is the author’s debut, he had me fooled! Opsal is one to watch, and I mean that whole-heartedly.

As for characters, Bear’s dry wit and level-headed problem-solving were refreshing and believable. He was very to the point and observational, but honestly, I haven’t read a book written in a first-person male perspective in forever, so I forgot how different it could be. Good different. As in, a welcome change of pace.

Aleks was also a well-rounded, three-dimensional character and for that reason, I think I would’ve liked even more dialogue with her, though she is very central to the story’s plot. Her and Bear’s relationship is so sweet and sincere and you root for them from the beginning to the end. I also really appreciated that it starts with them getting together and then builds from there, versus them coming to terms with their feelings throughout the story. Do you have any idea how rare that is in YA???

If I had to have one critique, it was that the villain (or, more precisely, the person who represents the real villain: society) was kind of dropped into the middle and felt more like a nuisance than a real threat to the MCs until the end. I think I would’ve liked just a little more development for him and his family’s creepy business.

Overall, this book didn’t just build a cool futuristic world; it grounded it in real people and relationships, which is how you truly succeed in worldbuilding. The dialogue always felt natural and each character had their own distinct way of talking and interacting with the world. The conflict got intense and kept me on the edge of my seat, but never felt hopeless or meanspirited. The parallels between this society and ours were poignant without being too on the nose. There’s definitely a commentary there and it definitely makes you think, but it doesn’t sacrifice good storytelling to prove a point.

And, of course… it ended on a cliffhanger and now I have to know what happens next.

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 02/2022
  • 978-1-7355495-0-7 B09QH1VPRW
  • 392 pages
  • $9.99
Hardcover Details
  • 02/2022
  • 978-1-7355495-1-4 B09QH1VPRW
  • 392 pages
  • $25.99

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