Is Sweetland a new world ready to accept suffering humanity, or is it another kind of escape entirely?
For those left behind, the act of crossing over to Sweetland is, literally, no different than death, but Joe Larivee has seen the other side, and now he must decide: is Sweetland real, and, if so, does he follow his daughter and lover and escape from the hell Earth has become, or does he stay and fight for the unfortunate ones he has spent his life serving, and, in the process, just maybe redeem himself for the betrayal which eats at his conscience?
In 2031, the oceans have risen by 14 meters, oil is increasingly scarce, and the economy has collapsed under the weight of mass migrations and food shortages. The government, under a ruthless combination of martial law and lawless corporate rule, is engaged in endless wars, and a frantic effort to keep out a flood of refugees.
Social worker Joe Larivee is just trying to survive as a single father with a fourteen-year-old daughter in Portland, Oregon. Joe is a bit of a luddite, but when children start to go missing, he is drawn into a world of virtual reality called New Life.
In 2031, virtual worlds are as lifelike as the real world. But the real world is so bleak that millions of poor people have retreated from their horrible existance into New Life, the ultimate consumer utopia.
What Joe finds, with the help of inworld detective, Claire Deluna, is frightening. It seems that many young people are convinced they can teleport to another planet, called Sweetland, from within New Life. Joe’s daughter, Jessie, is among them. Now, bodies are being discovered in abandoned warehouses.
Is Sweetland real, or a marketing scam? Or is it some sort of mass-suicide religious cult? When Jessie goes missing, Joe must look inside himself to discover the truth, and the answers to his life.
This novel is a black comedy, which explores the meaning of reality and hope, and how one man can find redemption and the courage to carry on in the face of paralyzing loss.