White City

Fiction - Science Fiction
617 Pages
Reviewed on 12/03/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Do you love watching the likes of Twin Peaks or 12 Monkeys? Because if you're itching for a dreamy, surrealistic psychological thriller, then White City by author Alex Exarchos might be exactly what you need to scratch that itch. Welcome to White City, a place of wild parties and terrifying nightmares, where lust and sin drive your every action, and you're either a part of the Power, or you belong to the People. Mary Strong, a student pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology, is shocked to find out that her professor, Dr. Stein, disappeared on the same date as her grandmother fifty years ago. She is further distressed when she discovers that the dreams of her friend Lydia bear striking similarities to those of her own. Will she be able to solve the mystery?

White City is a highly imaginative rollercoaster of a ride that transports the reader into a world where actions, thoughts, and dreams blend together to create a wild cacophony of resonant harmony. Alex Exarchos's narrative is raw, powerful, dark, and melancholic, and yet somehow beautiful all the same. I was in a trance-like state for most portions of the novel. There's a lot of foreshadowing in the first half of White City, and the twists and turns of the second half make for plenty of aha moments. I feel White City is one of those rare books which will only get better with each re-read. It was a thoroughly engaging reading experience, and I will highly recommend it to fans of neo-noir and surreal mysteries.

K.C. Finn

White City is a work of fiction in the high concept science fiction, dystopian and interpersonal drama sub-genres, and was penned by author Alex Exarchos. Complex by nature and sometimes truly harrowing, the work is recommended to adult reading audiences owing to its use of explicit language throughout, as well as graphic violence and scenes of a sexual nature. We find ourselves in the titular White City, where all is not as it seems for the girl next door, Mary Strong. Little does Mary know her true colors are about to shine when she becomes the centerpiece in a complex battle of cosmic forces, order and chaos, life and death.

Author Alex Exarchos has crafted a true masterpiece of dystopian fiction which elevates the genre to a sublime and often philosophical level. Intellectual readers who enjoy deeper engagement with the material will be sure to enjoy the surreal dreams, deadly twists, and complex emotions woven into this story, which takes clear influences from both modern and classic works of transformation and introspection. One of the things that really struck me and stayed with me after reading was the power of the book’s imagery, and the author’s ability to paint such striking word pictures so that Mary’s immersive dreams really do haunt your mind. The atmosphere of the work was subtle, but chilling throughout because of these remarkable depictions. Overall, I would highly recommend White City for fans of thought-provoking and intriguing science fiction that will keep you thinking long after you turn the final page.

Amy Raines

In White City by Alex Exarchos, a naked man wakes up on First Street in a strange place with images playing through his mind. He receives a piece of paper from a woman that has some numbers and a watermark on it and nothing else. After realizing what the numbers are, he follows them only to find a few more bizarre items that make no sense to him at the time. Mary, one of the naked man’s images, has deep-rooted trust issues because of her childhood. Lydia, an acquaintance Mary has known since childhood, asks for her help with a recurring nightmare over a couple of drinks at a local bar. Mary begins having dreams that relate to Lydia’s and decides to try to help her. The strange man in Mary’s dream instructs her to find a couple of people to bring to him. Lydia is hospitalized and no one seems to know what’s wrong with her except Mary. Will Mary find PP and PQ and take them to the strange man in her dreams? How will she figure out who he is? Will the naked man on First Street figure out the clues he has found and what the images in his mind mean? Will any of this help Lydia through the trauma she suffered during her nightmares?

White City by Alex Exarchos is an awesome mystery that plays on the senses in brand-new ways. This story is full of unexpected twists and turns - from a naked man waking up to unfamiliar surroundings to chasing the things that nightmares are made of to finding yourself literally stuck in a box. I love how easy it is to get caught up in the fear Lydia feels, the excitement and curiosity of Mary, and the confusing intuition of the naked man. The other-worldly feel of White City is nothing short of amazing as the unnatural events in Mary's and Lydia’s dreams intertwine with the things Mary discovers while she is awake. The concept of Mary’s voice journal makes this story very enlightening as she records her daily thoughts, ideas, and explains how she is changing from the strange dreams and the chaos that is unleashed when she realizes how real a nightmare can be. I recommend White City to anyone who loves a story that has it all - suspense, drama, romance, thriller, and a bit of comedy. Exarchos has woven a beautiful web of a story, and I hope to see the second book in the near future.

Rabia Tanveer

White City by Alex Exarchos is a science fiction novel that will keep you holding on until the end. The story follows Mary Strong as she goes through the most bizarre and surreal events that even she has a hard time believing. Mary is ready to finish her Ph.D. thesis in sociology and get into the “real” world already. However, her aspirations need to take a back seat as she starts battling with something too bizarre to make sense. She starts having strange dreams that baffle her. However, meeting Portia Quant becomes a catalyst to the strangest thing that happens to her. Portia belongs to one of the most powerful families in the city, but she is more than just part of a family that holds far more power than should be possible. Somehow, everything strange is interconnected and Mary has to make sense of it all before it is too late. Reality seems to be slipping from between her fingers and Mary does not have enough time to fight back. Will she survive this? Or will she give in to the surreal events that confuse her mind even more?

Alex Exarchos divides the story into three parts (Mind, Body, and Soul) and each part reflects Mary’s journey to understand what is going on in her life and her city. The story is like Inception but so much better in my opinion. The story is complex and intricate; it has layers upon layers of plot that you will enjoy peeling and uncovering. I believe this story fits right in the modern absurd literature genre. Kafka would be proud of this. Mary’s character is surreal, yet very comforting at the same time. Her reactions are very real, human, and they feel genuine. She is confused and baffled by the events, but she is also determined to get to the root of the mystery and make sense of it. The addition of Portia to the story made it even more fascinating to me. Portia acts as an anchor that grounds Mary in reality and allows her to explore the mystery without getting too lost. This is an intense novel, but is a must-read! Brilliantly complex and intricate enough to make me stick till the end.