I love Walt Disney World in Florida. So much so that I've been about twelve times over the years.
When you've been that many times you sort of exhaust all the normal things to do and start looking for the unusual and obscure stuff. Like digging into the history of the parks. That's how I found out that Walt Disney's original plan for Epcot was far different to the science and geography theme park that's there today. He wanted to build a fully working scientific city, filled with all the latest technological advances and breakthroughs. It was a fascinating concept but sadly he died before he could get it built.
So when I heard about a thriller novel The Happiest Workplace On Earth by Shaun Finnie, set in this city that was never built I had to give it a try. I got my paperback from Amazon for about £8-99 but there's a download available that's considerably cheaper if you like your books on an e-reader, personally I much prefer a good book.
It begins when Jack and Eloise Rothman, along with their grumpy teenage son Heath, have their application to live in the city of Epcot accepted. Like all other residents they will be expected to develop new and better lifestyles for future generations and help test these out. It's an idyllic lifestyle and one that the adults have been trying to get into for years. However even before they move in they find that life in the technological city isn't as perfect as they'd thought it would be.
There are people running a guerrilla war against the Disney corporation, a boardroom divided and fighting within itself for control of the company and a violent security force who run the city like a police state. If you don't want to abide by Epcot's squeaky-clean rules then you have no place there. On top of all this Jack Rothman is framed for a crime he didn't commit and has to run for his life through the Epcot that only existed in Walt Disney's imagination.
Don't be put off by the fact that it's Disney - the characters are hardly ever mentioned and you don't have to know anything about Walt Disney World either. You could see this as a political thriller that just happens to be set in a futuristic city. Or, if you're a big Disney fan like me, you could see it as a chance to learn much more about the Epcot that never was while also reading a great page-turner. I've read this kind of thing lots of times before of course. There's a chase, there's a bomb, there's a kidnapping. All the usual stuff that you find in thrillers. But it's fast paced and easy reading, not heavy going at all.
Ultimately it's a fast-moving tale about one family's fight to save the things that they love and what price they're prepared to pay. I loved it.