Karloff Country is a marvel. Modeled on Walt Disney World in Florida, Karloff Country is a slightly smaller theme park/resort complex with a similar number of theme parks as Walt Disney World, but also includes: planned communities for all of its employees, a power plant, vertical farms to provide the food necessary for both resort operations and for the residents, and an airfield. All of this is surrounded by a wall, which protects both the employees and guests from the crime, chaos, and food shortages that exist outside. When Jay’s parents get jobs working at Karloff County, he felt like his family has won the lottery. His parents both have good jobs, he has a good group of friends at school, and he has a great after-school job at Enchantria Park, his favorite part of Karloff Country.
While the prevailing perception is that the walls that surround Karloff Country are there to keep the rest of the world out, what if that isn’t actually the case? What if that is only part of the story? Jay, his family, and friends are about to find out.
In The Getaway, Lamar Giles tells a terrifying, near future tale about a world on the brink of dystopia and how easily it can be coaxed over the edge. He illustrates the wide range of reactions people exhibit when confronted with systemic societal collapse and existential threats from pride in having participated in the creation of the chaos to those who refuse to acknowledge the truth and danger right in front of them.
Early in the novel, Giles acknowledges that Karloff Country is inspired by Walt Disney and his magic kingdoms. Giles then goes on to mercilessly skewer Disney, their parks, the mythos surrounding both the man and his creations, and the legions of Disney fans that flock to the resorts world-wide bearing his name.
Giles’ depiction of the end of civilization as we know it is horrifying, and it seems all the more believable because he never asks readers to suspend their disbelief by portraying the events in the novel over-melodramatically. Instead, Giles creates a fascinating exploration of privilege and class, examining how they intersect with race, age, and ideas of servitude in which some horrible things happen, but are all believable because they reflect behaviors that were once considered normal. Giles illustrates just how far segments of our society will go in pursuit of power and greed.
As grim as Giles’ vision of humanity at its worst is, he also provides examples of people motivated to help others, in spite of what it may cost them personally, those who will step in to do what needs to be done and how strong the bonds of family, both genetic and found, can be.
The Getaway is a 21st century Masque of the Red Death where, as Poe before him, Giles warns us of the dangers that are lurking in the future and the lengths some among us are willing to go to save themselves.
Read an interview with Lamar Giles here.