** NOTHING IS EVER WHAT IT SEEMS. ** From award-winning journalist, Shari Lopatin, comes her highly praised debut novel, a science fiction/dystopian suspense, "The Apollo Illusion." The year is 2150, and bullied nineteen-year-old Flora can no longer ignore the burning curiosity to learn what’s behind the towering Wall surrounding her home state of Apollo. Citizens still read books, discuss philosophy, and send text messages, but questioning The Other Side is forbidden.
When Flora's naïveté accidentally reveals a dark secret about Apollo, she’s forced into an isolated web of truth, lies, and survival. Fearing for her life, she leaves behind a clue for her childhood friend, Andrew, placing her last hope in their special bond.
THE APOLLO ILLUSION is a story for the hackers, the techies, the seekers, and the rebels of the world.
* Audience: young adults (older teens) and millennials
* Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality and occasional language
* Genres: dystopian suspense, science fiction, young adult (YA), speculative fiction
Normally, I think dystopian novels are OK. I think they have an interesting premise, but I find that most authors overdo the concept. This makes it excessively difficult for me to buy into the world that they're selling. Then comes Shari Lopatin with one of the best books I've been asked to review in my last two years of blogging. I'm so flipping in love with this book that I was begging it not to end. When it did end, as all good things must sadly do, I stared at my Kindle with an absolutely blank face hoping that my Kindle had simply put the About the Author page in the document too early as some kind of sick joke. Unfortunately, I was only kidding myself.
I talk about characters in all of my reviews, so let's start there. Lopatin has dominated the world of character creation. These kids may be teenagers, but they are so stinking realistic that I forgot that I was reading fiction for a little while. I could definitely see any of the students that I teach doing all of the things that Andrew, Flora, Don, and even Sophie do. This was awesome from a general reader's point of view, but to a teacher that's a dang magic trick. If I can see my kids in those parts so easily, they would see themselves in those roles. If they do that, they would be more likely to give Lopatin's message some real thought.
So, The Apollo Illusion. After reading oh-so-many YA books recently that made me realise I was far too old to connect with them, I was really hoping for a novel that still spoke to me even though I’m (eek) 15ish years older than the main characters – and this book doesn’t disappoint. Yes, it’s dystopian YA and yes, it’s a crowded marketplace and yes, there’s a lot of similarities and tropes but I really felt like The Apollo Illusion brought something new to the table. More importantly, I really enjoyed it.
The Apollo Illusion is an enthralling dystopian story. Once I started reading, I could not put it down. The story is compelling and holds your attention to the very end. In a George Orwell-type of way, this story makes you think about the future of society, especially given today’s climate about truth, privacy, and privilege.
The Apollo Illusion, the debut novel from award-winning journalist Shari Lopatin published on May 19, explores how fast technology might evolve over the span of a century and what effect that would have on our society. Flagstaff Live! recently spoke with Lopatin to learn more about her writing process for the novel.
Shari Lopatin chats with Arizona's premiere morning show, Good Morning Arizona, about what inspired her debut novel, "The Apollo Illusion."
Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?
Hi! Thanks for having me on your blog today. I’m super excited to be here! So … background on me as an author and writer … I usually say I tell stories that matter. Initially, I began my career as an award-winning journalist. But now, I write complex and stimulating suspense novels that tie into modern-day social issues. I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, public relations professional, social media manager, and (my favorite) earned the title of “Cat Mom of the Year.”
As an author, I’m releasing my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, on May 19, 2018.
What got you into writing?
OMG, what didn’t get me into writing? Seriously though, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first short story when I was seven years old about a group of aliens who befriended a girl on earth; they all had names of food items, such as "Butter."
However, I began writing professionally in 2005, after I graduated from college with my bachelor's degree in Journalism. My mom talked me into going that route after I floundered in my original major, Marketing. Too many numbers. My mom said, “Give journalism a try. I think you’ll like it.” Glad I listened to her!
What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?
I came up with the idea for The Apollo Illusion while having dinner with my mom, sister, and boyfriend. My mom commented on a news story she'd watched that reported how babies are learning the swiping motion of a tablet before they learn to speak. We started discussing the societal repercussions of a generation brought up with that foundation, and the idea for my book sparked.
Additionally, I'd been watching the effects of social media on my beloved profession of print journalism and had been contemplating issues around the rapid advancement of technology. After that dinner with my family, I started writing in this frenzy, and my book developed organically from there.