Review: Welcome to Orphancorp


Welcome to Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward

five-stars 5 stars

Read from 14 – 15 June, 2017

Synopsis: Winner of the 2015 Seizure Viva La Novella Prize

‘Takes all of your dystopian nightmares and connects them to a mother lode of pure emotional intensity. There’s so much keen detail here about the cruel logic of oppressive institutions, you’ll feel Mirii’s yearning for freedom in your bones – and you’ll rejoice at every tiny moment of escape that she achieves. Welcome to Orphancorp is harrowing, scarily real, and ultimately super moving.’ – Charlie Jane Anders (i09)

‘Punchy, crunchy, sexy and smart, Welcome to Orphancorp is a short, sharp shock of a story with bruised-but-not-broken characters and a bonsai dystopia you can actually believe in. Marlee Jane Ward is a writer of heart and passion, muscle and slow-burning anger.’ – Ian McDonald

Welcome to Orphancorp is an intimate, heartfelt story set in the darkest of places. I can’t stop thinking about these characters.’ – Kij Johnson

‘An object lesson in how to dehumanise young people by locking them up and depriving them of all warmth and care – has never been more timely. This gritty, greasy story is peppered with violence and lit with the slenderest shafts of affection and hope. It will make your jaw clench with fear for the indomitable Mirii Mahoney, and your fist punch the air at her every tiny victory.’ – Margo Lanagan

Bookish Things: 130 pages. The cover has since been updated from this version. I don’t mind either, though the new one is better. This is the first book in the Orphancorp Series.

Where to buy: Amazon on kindle for $4.99.

My Review: 

Bookshelves: aussie-authorsaww2017awesome-authorswinter-2017june-challenge5-star-reviewdystopianmade-me-thinkya

Recommended for: everyone

For the first time in a long, long while I find myself at a loss for words when I’ve finished a book.

crickets chirping

Normally, this silence might be due to how bad the book is, and it is for that reason again now.

There is one big difference…

This book is so gritty, so rough around the edges and so raw it was almost bleeding in my hands. It was so bad to read, because it felt so wrong.

The dystopia portrayed in Marlee’s 130 pages is stark, horrifying and at the same time full of illicit sweetness.

Mirii is a flawed character, so battered and bruised she’s practically remade from scar tissue, but she manages to connect with the reader in a way that surprised me. Her determination, bridled passions and stubbornness mixing together to portray a tough-as-nails little minx.

The supporting cast is varied, all providing tiny glimmers into broken souls wrapped in children’s broken bodies. Brilliant!

The writing was in one breath delicious and the next like a mouthful of dirt. The dichotomy distracted my inner editor, but placated her in equal measure. All to come together in a truly awe inspiring narrative voice. I’ve not read anything quite so ‘dystopianesque-Aussie’ before.

The slang did not bother me, as it has other reviewers, perhaps because it’s an extension of a lot of Aussie slang used today. The meanings easily understandable when given in context.

The one ‘issue’ and I’m not sure you could call it that is the swiftness in which the relationships happened. Some of that can be explained away with teenage hormones, and the characters starvation for love and affection, but not all of it. It’s a hard one given the length of the story to allow the characters the time and space to develop the relationships in a suitable manner but keep the pace moving.

The LGBTI themes are ever present but incorporated into the everyday life inside Orphancorp in a way that just works. It’s a-given. It’s the norm. Flawless.

My favourite part was the cuddle party/s. It made me think of the cute little otters from Finding Dory then very swiftly smashed that innocence from my mind with a sledgehammer. Loved every second!

otters cuddle party

Brilliant world, brilliant characters, brilliant writing.

Do yourselves a favour and pick up this little rough-cut gem today.

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