Oh my… This is a creepy, dark, and thought-provoking debut that has kept me up at night.
The novel begins as Lena has lost her beloved grandmother to cancer, leaving Lena to worry about caring for her mysteriously ill mother and manage a whole lot of debt. Lena decides to leave college and take a position in a shady research project in a remote town called Lakewood. The study pays her well and provides the medical insurance that Lena’s mom so badly needs, but Lena quickly realizes she had no idea what she was getting in to.
The medical and psychological experiments are terrifying, at times making me physically uncomfortable while reading. Beyond that, the story recalls actual government experiments done on Black people throughout the sorted history of our country’s treatment of race and class divides. Not an easy read, but definitely worth it.
The writing is very good, and extremely descriptive. Lena and her mom are sympathetic characters. I was so worried for them and felt stifled and trapped as Lena’s situation deteriorated as the story cruised along. I am very impressed that a debut evoked such strong emotions for me.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys psychological suspense that makes you think.