Subway: Palliatopia, by S. W. Lothian
Hey guys, are you having a good week?
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing Subway: Palliatopia, a Young Adult Dystopian novel, by Australian author S. W. Lothian.
Subway: Palliatopia is a story of deceit, power and its ability to corrupt, alongside the deep-seated need of human survival.
Strange electrical signals plague new York City and people are starting to go missing. Wil, a helpful and caring young man, begins to worry when his girlfriend fails to meet him off the Subway. Having spent the day searching for her, his subway ride home ends in disaster.
Wil soon wakes to find himself in a sterile hospital room. Now a patient at the Palliatopia Institute, he and others are informed that they’re infected with a deadly virus. Therefore, they must be kept separate from the rest of New York City while the infection is cured. However, all is not as it seems and it is up to Wil and the new friends he makes to uncover the truth and escape the Institute.
Wil was an admirable protagonist. Helpful and caring toward others, he refused to stand for injustice. Across the span of the story, we see his determination to escape the Institute build as he learns more about the mysterious establishment. Wil made for a great rounded character, for although he was a kind and steadfast friend, he also possessed flaws, butting heads with others and starting fights. Seeing the sheer fullness of his character: his wants and fears, made me care all the more for him and his journey.
Macy, Wil’s new friend in the Palliatopia Institute, was a fellow passenger on Wil’s subway car. Throughout the novel, I found her to be kind, cautious, co-operative, and very strong within herself. She was good at assessing the situations they found themselves in, sensing any potential threat, especially to her new friend. Macy’s fear of losing Wil’s support was relatable: I felt it resonate with me deep down as she clung to his friendship, which was the only thing keeping her sane in an unfamiliar place, where she had lost all sense of family and her everyday life.
Iggy, an angsty young man with a bad attitude had the greatest potential for change. At first, he came into conflict with Wil, making assumptions about his character based on his own insecurities. Iggy was constantly causing conflict, whether in the form of fights or underlying antagonism within the Institute. However, when he and Wil were forced to occupy the same space for some time in isolation (near the midpoint of the story), he began to undergo a gradual change in his outlook on the world. He began to understand that his anger at the world and at others wasn’t necessarily justified. As a result, he shifted from being Wil’s foe to his friend, a process which while gradual, was both heart-warming and satisfying.
Finally, I’d like to discuss the primary antagonist, Mayor Walker, a corrupt and unsympathetic man. He was a character that I dearly hoped would lose by the end of the story. His arrogance, greed, and ruthlessness instantly gave the impression of a man devoid of any basic shred of humanity. Cold and heartless, it was easy to root against him.
Subway: Palliatopia was an intriguing book, with various things that contributed to its meaningful telling.
- The exploration of modern technology and its influences on people’s everyday lives showed just how dependent we are on such gadgets in the modern world.
- Wil and Macy’s growing friendship was sweet and humorous: they protected each-other in different ways, which was nice to see.
- Following Wil’s inner journey of doubt and the desperate need to escape his old life was gripping. It contrasted strongly with his dire situation of being stuck in a mysterious place away from others. In a sense, he had managed to escape, however, not on his own terms. Once forcibly separated from his old life, Wil began to miss it and cherished the memories he had of it more than ever.
- The interpersonal conflict between Macy and Wil’s girlfriend Cass was relatable, especially as secrets that were shared were not kept in confidence when times of stress took root.
- The world-building of the Institute and its plans, alongside the organisation of the plot made for a fascinating and deeply meaningful story.
One thing I wasn’t sure about was the third person, omniscient narration, because it became harder to know whose reactions and story I was meant to be focusing on.
As always, whilst reading, I kept my eyes open for little snippets of wisdom. With that in mind, I managed to settle on the following five quotes.
- ‘Strength comes from the darkest place.’
- ‘We all have our own problems. You need to own yours, not blame everybody-else. Take some responsibility.’
- ‘Sometimes what we dream of is worse than what we already have. It’s often through tragedy and turmoil that we find clarity.’
- ‘They had seen the cost of convenience and of the impact borne from entitlement. Nothing is free. Convenience has costs. Everything has a price.’
- ‘Freedom is born from risk: it doesn’t come easily. For the first time in his life, Wil realized that sacrifices made by others in the past were the reason for the freedom he had taken for granted. He wanted it back, more than anything he had ever wanted before.’
Each of these quotes spoke to me in a different way. However, they came together to convey some crucial ideas: that we as people are stronger than we think, that we have to earn our freedom, appreciate what we have, take ownership of our mistakes, and keep our eyes open for deception.
Overall, Subway: Palliatopia was a meaningful and relevant story of modern times, one that grabbed me from the moment I started reading. It was a story of control, deception, and a desperate need to be free. Additionally, it explored the power of convenience in modern day lives and the manipulation of the general population.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: Lovers of Dystopian fiction, with young adult characters.
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Wishing you a wonderful week,