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Tropic of Kansas

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  715 ratings  ·  112 reviews
The United States of America is no more. Broken into warring territories, its center has become a wasteland DMZ known as “the Tropic of Kansas.” Though this gaping geographic hole has no clear boundaries, everyone knows it's out there—that once-bountiful part of the heartland, broken by greed and exploitation, where neglect now breeds unrest. Two travelers appear in this a ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Harper Voyager
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Average rating 3.44  · 
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Jason Pettus
As I've been regularly discussing here at Goodreads this year, I'm going through a bit of an existential crisis as a reader in 2018; namely, now that I'm no longer professionally reviewing 200 contemporary novels a year for the CCLaP website, for the first time in a decade, I've found my tolerance for contemporary novels to be suddenly dropping like a brick in a lake, and am finding it impossible to read any this year that don't depressingly remind me of a hundred contemporary novels I've alread ...more
Austin Bates
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
I don't get it.

Let's open with that. I don't get what this book was striving to be. There doesn't appear to be any specific guiding theme, any stylistic aspiration, any particular mood that was being projected. Ostensibly, this tells the story of an America that has fallen under dictatorial control by a pseudo-President of narcissistic leanings. So, as one can imagine, most readers will think, especially since this was published in 2017, that this is a side-long commentary on Trump ... but it's
Jul 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Actual rating: 3.5 stars.

Most dystopias exist in a near future, extrapolated from current events. Christopher Brown's takes place in the present, the extrapolation point the assassination of President Reagan in the 1980s. In the assassination's wake, Alexander Haig takes over, awarding himself a sixth star (a nice touch) and ushering in an era of powerful and autocratic governments headed by current and former military leaders. In other words, the events in "Tropic of Kansas" unfold in an altern
Steve DuBois
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
War-porn that will appeal mainly (possibly exclusively) to dedicated progressives. Imaginative and well-researched, with an interesting alt-historical twist. But the plot is diffuse to the point of anarchy, and the main protagonist's utter indestructibility robs the action of any meaningful weight; for me, it was less a novel than a video game I was watching someone else play. ...more
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a fun read for me. I am really into dystopian novels, so this one was perfect for me. The characters were well developed and the plot moves along nicely. I highly recommend this book.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sig (white, long straight hair, crazy green eyes)
Tania ( black, Sig’s foster sister)
New Orleans
Cedar Rapids
Patriot Militias
Incursions of Militiamen
Hawk-Eye Self Defence Militia
Maxine Price author/revolutionary/separatist
Rogue corporate coup
Political movements
Betterment of life
A midwestern odyssey of sorts with Tania and Sig on the road in ways, one on trail of the other, the other a most wanted man, one of skill a
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
Overall a well written novel with engaging characters and an eerily plausible dystopian setting. I honestly think this is not far off the future we'll see with the current asshats in charge. Corporations are given rights human beings are not in the name of making a profit and keeping enough people stupid/poor/alienated/full of seething hatred that they live their lives as angry trolls and blame their neighbour for their problems instead of the people in charge.


Christopher Shawn
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
In the not-too-distant future, the United States is no more. Warring factions have divided up the country, and what's left of the federal government holds absolute control over those it still governs. The Constitution has been suspended, and "permanent emergency" powers have given the President, a former television star, dictator-like status.

This all seemed so far-fetched not so long ago.

Militias have taken control of large swaths of land, and operate their own brutal prisons, with only the fain
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an examination of what it could be like aa couple of decades post-Trump, if Liberals do not gain power. It is mostly about civil collapse and politics, but the effects of climate change are mostly implied. Brown's take on a dystopic USA future is rational and possible. He did not examine effects of Theocracy, but did of Plutocracy and Fascism.

The journey is interesting. I was rather disappointed by the too quick ending and victory of the protagonists. Power to the People! An ending left
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dark and violent, but definitely a story for our era.

I've been having a lot of trouble reading books like this--dystopic and fascist--because of the current administration in the United States. However, for some reason, I was able to get into this one and go the distance. I suspect that Brown's writing style had something to do with it. It's pretty brutal in places, though, so I'm not sure I would recommend it to anyone. Read at your own discretion.
Adam Alliss
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clever and Intelligent Alt Future Road Trip

From the clever title to the swiftly intelligent writing and sympathetic characters, it was clear to me that I had found a special piece of literature in 'Tropic of Kansas'.

The immediate impulse, even before starting the book and based on the synopsis alone, was to draw comparisons to current events and put myself in that head space. Instead, when I was introduced to one of the protagonists, Sig, I immediately felt like I was fifteen again and reading K
Izaak GHS2020
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A political satire and an excellent dystopian novel, Tropic of Kansas follows the story of Sig and Tania, who in order to survive must navigate a broken America, filled with lawless millitias, corrupt justice systems, and a totalitarian leader who controls everything from the media to citizens rights. through the main characters experiences social topics that are very pertinent in today's world are touched upon. Things such as race, class, and religeons are frequently brought up. political topic ...more
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Parts of this book were brilliant. A great examination of politics. But the meandering narrative does this book no favors.
Robert August
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story exists within a dystopian future America, where the central portion of the country is a political and economic wasteland know as the Tropic of Kansas. The story follows Sig and his foster sister Tania in separate narratives through this harrowing tale of a broken America.

Brown paints the picture of this grim future with unrelenting realism. It is a cruel world that feels like the natural evolution of today's vitriolic political climate. Perhaps because of this, it can be a hard story
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
I like a good dystopian novel, and this one sounded so promising. It was good until it wasn't; about 2/3 of the way through, I lost interest and gave up. The story just didn't seem to be going anywhere; the characters got in a bind, then they escaped. Then they got captured, and then they escaped. Over and over and over again..... ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Love this - smart writing, clever world building, engaging characters. Almost a new genre - "Positive dystopia".... ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting premise of a dystopian near future where the United States has collapsed into warring territories and society begins to unravel. The entire center of the country has become a lawless wasteland known as "the tropic of cancer." The book tries to put a human face on what is essentially a cautionary tale of certain political views taken to extremes, but focusing on Sig, a lone punk-kid inadvertantly placed at the forefront of the revolutionaries, and Tania, his foster-sister who he hasn' ...more
Philip Martinez
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Maybe 2.5 stars. The basic idea (a future dystopian US ruled by an autocratic government opposed by loosely organized groups of rebels/dissidents) was well thought out. But the writing itself fell flat, so much that I had to force myself to finish it. The dialogue was filled with long series of "he said", "she said", which slowed down the pace and was very repetitive.

I wanted to care about the main characters, but the author didn't develop them very fully and I never felt I really got to know t
Clayton  Hackett
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A disturbingly fun journey through an alternate-reality America where most everything has gone wrong except the hearts and minds of those who believe it could be better. With chapters that come at you like burst fire from an automatic, it presents a clear-eyed view of power, government, and potential. Brown's love for each topic, even (if not especially) the peripheral details, seep through the pages and make this one a keeper. ...more
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty interesting alternate timeline diverging in the 80's. Felt the ending was the weakest part, but imaginative until then. ...more
A.K. Alliss
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From the clever title to the swiftly intelligent writing and sympathetic characters, it was clear to me that I had found a special piece of literature in 'Tropic of Kansas'.

The immediate impulse, even before starting the book and based on the synopsis alone, was to draw comparisons to current events and put myself in that head space. Instead, when I was introduced to one of the protagonists, Sig, I immediately felt like I was fifteen again and reading Kerouac. At that age, when confronted by th
Craig DiLouie
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Christopher Brown’s TROPIC OF KANSAS (Harper Voyager, 2017) is a fun dystopian read about an alternate United States broken down by income inequality, environmental depletion, and various factions warring against a police state.

In this alternate USA, the Iranians slaughtered the hostages in Tehran and Ronald Reagan was assassinated in the early ’80s, resulting in Alexander Haig becoming President and endless war in Iran and the Americas. After him, the next President tried to dismantle the resul
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tropic of Kansas by Christopher Brown is a highly recommended dystopian/political satire set in the alternate reality of a future, fractured USA.

Sig was an illegal from the USA hiding in Canada, until he was caught and sent back over the border wall into the area that was once Minnesota. Now the Midwest is just part of a wasteland of warring factions and provincial militia groups. This area has been dubbed The Tropic of Kansas and is known for the third world lawlessness that thrives there and t
Horia Ursu
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed a lot this novel. Even if it's an alternate history, where the diverging moment in history is president Reagan's assassination attempt (which, in Christopher Brown's novel, succeeded), the whole dystopic evolution of the US in Tropic of Kansas bears scary comparisons with the trends in present American politics. This is America after a decade of trumpism. The signs are already here, the changes for worst are happening right now. Xenophobia running rampant, a personality cult built arou ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
For me, this is a book that forces the question, "Could it happen here?" A lot of the book is depressing, dark in its portrayal of a USA gone mad. There is a vibe of hope, but even after it all smashes together at the end, I have to wonder.

This isn't the USA of today, but it could be. Think of this as an alternate verse, with some things tweaked in the history. The Watchmen graphic novel came to mind. If you can roll with that and fine with hints sprinkled throughout of what the differences are,
Roddey Reid
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tropic of Kansas is a great read. It both stirs up our worst nightmares of the present and calms them down by accelerating current social and political trends into a fantasy of our near-future. In Christopher Brown’s brave new world, drones now patrol land, water, and sky, a savior CEO rules from the White House, the gas and oil industry and agribusiness dominate the economy deepening environmental ruin, entrepreneurs profit from political strife, and local militias coordinate with police forces ...more
Michael Brokaw
I read this book while watching The Man In The High Castle. The geography of a (dis)ordered east and west coast divided by a (lawless) zone of chaos led me to weave plot points from the two stories together. Because I'm 70, I dont sweat these details except when I'm trying to narrate "what it's about" to friends. Then I just have to toss the mental bookmark and say I am more fond of Dick than I am of Brown.
I felt there were too many characters to keep track of and too many factions to place the
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaway
I won this book as a giveaway from Goodreads. I found it to be a mix of dystopian, adventure, politics and futuristic robots. The USA is no longer what it was. It has been torn into different territories with a huge area of land in the center which is known as Tropic of Kansas. No longer the breadbasket of America the land has been ruined by greed. The president has become a dictator and places like the Superdome in New Orleans holds many political prisoners. Enter the two main characters...Sig, ...more
Zeke Margolis
I like the dystopian genre so I was excited to give this book a try. It was an quick and easy read, with chapters only being 3-5 pages each, it felt a bit more like the screenplay to an action adventure movie than an actual novel. The plot developed in a choppy manner jumping between multiple intersecting plot lines and only really came together in the last 1/3 of the book. I would have appreciated a bit more narrative background to help fill in some of the gaps that I had for most of the book, ...more
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wild ride through the ruins of America. The ending is a bit incoherent - Endings Are Hard - but its a fun read, and its ruined America run by a corrupt, dictatorial president really captures the zeitgeist. Which is amusing, because it turns out that its not an extrapolation, turning current trends up to eleven (which was the impression I got from the prequel, Rule of Capture: A Novel) - the characters discuss when America went rotten, and decide it was when Reagan was assassinated and Iran kil ...more
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“The only signs were the names of little towns Sig had never heard of, some of them named after the people who lived here before, others after the people who took it away.” 0 likes
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