cover image City of Orange

City of Orange

David Yoon. Putnam, $27 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-42216-8

Yoon (Version Zero) explores the nature of memory and reality in this atmospheric character study. A man wakes in a desert wasteland with no memory of who he is, where he is, or how he got there. As his survival instincts kick in, they bring shards of memories of his life before, including the painful realization that he has, or had, a wife and daughter. He explores his surroundings with extreme caution, discovering a small shelter with food, dozens of totems made from stacked stones, and a deserted condo containing a corpse and an clumsily constructed paper Christmas tree. As his memories seep back slowly, bringing increasing mental anguish, his understanding of his strange surroundings grows through interactions, real or imagined, with crows, an old man, and a young boy. The story moves slowly, but Yoon finds the tension in the smallest of acts—like heating up a can of soup—and builds suspense by teasing out information about the world, forcing readers to question everything. Fans of The Martian will enjoy this new take on the struggle to survive in an unfamiliar land. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writer’s House. (May)