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3.54  ·  Rating details ·  5,357 ratings  ·  1,019 reviews
A startling debut about class and race, Lakewood evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation—part The Handmaid’s Tale, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remot
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by Amistad
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Emma ^They didn't ask if there was anything sexual in it...? I haven't read it yet but it's obviously about a scary topic (and even scarier because it's ba…more^They didn't ask if there was anything sexual in it...? I haven't read it yet but it's obviously about a scary topic (and even scarier because it's based on true stories) so that's why there was a question about age. Age appropriateness is not the presence or absence of sexual content. (less)

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Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,357 ratings  ·  1,019 reviews

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Feb 12, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tr-scifi
A creepy and unnerving story based on how black people have historically been treated and tested in government experiments. Reading this felt like a fever dream: confusing and bizarre and unsettling. I think this would best be enjoyed by readers who also liked Catherine House, since it primarily focuses on the dark atmosphere without giving any answers to questions. Enjoyment for this story is very subjective - while there are things I wish the story had to make me enjoy the book more, you could ...more

After her grandmother passes, Lena searches for financial comfort since her mother is medically unwell. She receives a letter offering more than enough to provide the comfort she needs if she moves to Lakewood and submits herself to the Lakewood Project. Accepting, Lena finds herself as part of a human experiment group.

I enjoyed this debut young adult novel. It was a quick and easy read with a dark atmosphere. Lena's race and socioeconomic status were rightfully featured as doormat for
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
An un-put-downable debut!

Lakewood has been compared to The Handmaid's Tale which almost kept me from reading it. One, I get tired of everything even remotely dystopian being compared to The Handmaid's Tale and two, I didn't like that book very much. Thankfully I decided to read Lakewood anyway, and double thankfully, it isn't anything like The Handmaid's Tale. It's an entirely different story and I'm not even sure it belongs in the dystopia genre. Also, Lakewood is much, much better.

For the last
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, thrillers, horror
This book is creepy, gripping, thought-provoking, atmospheric. Honestly, if Jordan Peele wrote a movie about Henrietta Lacks, it would be something like this. While reading, there is such a sense of dread mounting up until the end. I was so engrossed with this.

When Lena Johnson's beloved grandmother dies, Lena is left with a huge amount of family debt. Lena then drops out of college and sign up to do this medical experiment in Lakewood, Michigan to earn good money to pay off the family debt and
The Artisan Geek
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a great book! What interested me was the way Giddings managed to explore how the society fails to protect the most vulnerable and instead result uses their weakness to exploit them for their own benefit. Crazy!

A huge thank you Amistad for gifting me a copy of this book! Like for reals

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When I finished this book, all I could think about were the experimentations that were forced upon black bodies in the Tuskegee experiment of untreated sphyilis in black men. Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male was a clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service. The study initially involved 600 black men – 399 with syphilis, 201 who did not have the disease. The study was conducted without the benefit of patients’ informed consent. Researche ...more
Claude's Bookzone
2.5 Stars

CW: (view spoiler)

I really wanted this to be a deeper exploration of medical experiments conducted on people from lower socio-economic groups, and also on POC. It danced around the edges but never really went far enough to have the shock factor that I had been expecting. The writing is pretty good and there were some super creepy moments dotted in the
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was initially unsure if Megan Giddings’ Lakewood had taken me all of the way there. Having finished it at a breakneck page-turning speed late last night, and woken up with a tense jaw and stress headache, I can confirm that this book delivered on it’s promise. In a Get Out Style premise, where inhabiting a Black body is most of the horror story, this book follows a young Black college student, child of an ill mother and grandchild to a recently deceased grandmother who enters a secret medical ...more
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it
I was disappointed by this. I was expecting a sharper depiction of the medical evils perpetrated on people based on their race or class (because that is what the blurb promised), but I found that part of the book to be very timid. It also didn’t work for me as a medical thriller because it lacked suspense. I’m not sure that I’d read anything else by this author. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Naya Frazier
May 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Described as "Henrietta Lacks" meets "Handmaids Tale", this book is ultimately very disappointing.

Summed up, the plot of Lakewood is: the US government conducts unethical experiments on socioeconomically vulnerable people of color.

Once Lena signs up for the study, the plot ultimately devolves into a tiring narrative loop: experiment is conducted, subjects lay victim to results ranging from slightly bizarre to utterly horrific, subjects lie to family and friends about their experience. Lather, r
Destanye B.
Aug 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
Ok, guys just finished Lakewood: A Novel by debut author Megan Giddings!

- I’m not sure what genre this book was supposed to be in but the idea of a realism horror of using black and brown bodies for experimentation purposes (that were done so many times in the past without our consent) was an interesting topic, especially the idea that they chose ppl who were in desperate financial situations to “consent” to have these test done.

- When finding out h
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
While a bit meandering and disjointed, I think this story's a gallant effort to experience. I wish Giddings dug deeper into medical racism, but she presented a tale to get the discussion and many discoveries going.

Bark  |  Ladies Of Horror Fiction
Lakewood is a disturbing tale of classism, racism, and desperation and those who take advantage of others because they can and for their own gain. It’s horrifying on so many levels and definitely worth reading.

Lena is a young woman grieving the loss of her grandmother when the story opens. Her grandma took care of them all but especially Lena’s mother who suffers from a brain malady. Now Lena and her mother are left alone with their grief and the mounting bills in the aftermath. It soon becomes
Holy. Shit.

That was my feeling while reading and upon finishing this one. I wish I had been able to write my review immediately because now, having read many others, I’m at even more of a loss of how to do this one justice or best sum it up. I needed time to think about this one. It reads fast, like a thriller, though personally I found it more psychological in many ways than medical but then... those two are innately connected. How often, after all, are black, brown, female, queer, disabled, p
Elizabeth Olesh
Lena's mother has a chronic illness and the family struggles to cover the costs for her treatment, so when Lena is invited to participate in a lucrative research project, as a subject, she accepts.

This books has been described as "The Handmaid's Tale meets Henrietta Lacks", and I suppose that is true, but I found that the sum of the parts was not great enough. The narrative switches back and forth from third-person to first-person in the form of Lena's letters. I think it would have been more ef
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
3.5 stars

Lena Johnson is trying to cope with the recent death of her grandmother and her mother Deziree's debilitating health issues while dealing with the mounting medical debt.

She receives an invitation to take part in The Lakewood Project, a series of research studies.  The offer seems too good to be true:  high pay, family health insurance with no out of pocket expenses, and housing provided.

The catch?  Lena has to participate in a secret program and cannot disclose any details to her family
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
OKAY OKAY OKAY so in the month of December I have read and identified my favorite book of the year!

There are like maybe 1 or 2 books I can think of that I would’ve liked to be longer, and this is one of them, clocking in at about 270 pages. I was okay with the ending, but I wished there was a little more about the aftermath of the experiments and the exposure of the dangerous water in Lakewood.

I feel like it’s best going into this book w/o the expectation that it’ll be a combo of Handmaid’s Ta
If you read Lakewood, you will follow Lena's path: the path of a young black woman enlisted in an experiment, in exchange for money to take care of her sick mother. For the sake of the experience, she'll move in and live with strangers for a few months. She will also be submitted to strange questions, stranger painful assignments and more.

Up to 93 % of the book, I felt like because I kept reading, I deserved a cookie. It was teadious, for me. It seemed a bit repetitive. Questions over questions,
I listened to this on audio, and rather liked the narrator. Though, her ability to do voices for the male characters wasn't the best.
I wanted to like this book because the idea of it is so interesting. But I thought the execution was lackluster, hollow.

The ending is abrupt and made no sense to me, and seems completely out of nowhere. There are no consequences for anything anyone does, and things just basically fade to black.

I feel like the novel should've started with the events that take plac
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After the death of her grandmother, Lena Johnson is forced to drop out of college. She is offered a job that is too good to be true. High pay, medical and housing. All Lena has to do is participate in a private research study and not tell anyone about it. What sounds like ground breaking at first turns out to have chilling consequences. The subject of race, class, experiments and exploitation. The fact that something like this did happen with the Tuskegee experiment. A really thought provoking d ...more
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-authors
Lakewood is a chilling debut about the horrors of medical experimentation on Black people and the desperation of losing parts of yourself in order to care for someone else. It's a slow burn horror novel that becomes increasingly disturbing and hearkens to the horrific real-world history of unethical experimentation such as the Tuskegee Project.

When Lena's grandmother dies, she becomes the only means of support for her mother who regularly struggles with her health and mental health. So when Lena
Monica (crazy_4_books)
Another cautionary tale about "gentrification" disguised as horror. I am not saying it isn't creepy how these Black American, Indian and Latinx are treated in these government laboratory studies, they are treated as guinea pigs, and that's awful, it's sad to see how they manipulate them to get them in the research in exchage for money, and the tortuous events Lena and the other subjects go through is so very bad, but it did not feel scary (to me). Unsettling, sad, disturbing and disgraful, YES, ...more
Sharon :)
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blm
This fiction title coming out in 2020 was perfect timing. The author writing about how the government preys on low income black areas. Really interesting read!
Lady H
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2021
I did not like this. From the get-go I didn't get along with the writing style; there was a weird sort of detachment between me and the narrator that prevented me from getting into her head or connecting with her. I guess this is kind of more literary horror, which means that there's a lot of the kind of pointless waffling/musing that I tend to dislike in literary fiction.

I was really intrigued by the plot, which had some moments that were really eerie and gross, but ultimately none of it came
Nov 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020
I really wanted to like this one but I couldn't. I found it very dull and couldn't care about anything that was happening. ...more
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a confusing, frustrating, meandering, plotless, overlong pile of . . . brilliance.

Ms. Giddings has added to the ever-growing list of novels about women who put themselves in dangerous situations for personal gain. But to compare "Lakewood" to "Lock Every Door" is like comparing "The Great Gatsby" to "The Amityville Horror" because both take place on Long Island. Ms. Giddings puts her heroine, Lena, in a personal situation desperate enough to justify signing up for a hyper-secretive behavior
This is a book I should have loved. It has so many things I love in books. Secret government sponsored experiments, discussions on racial inequality, abuse and privilege. Honestly, I thought I'd love it but I was so disappointed. There's barely a plot which seems impossible because the premise was literally perfect for an exciting story. There were so many missed opportunities to make this story interesting. And there were plenty of "starts" of interesting plot lines but then they'd fall off and ...more
Well, that was disturbing. Not really "entertaining" in the traditional sense, more sad and infuriating, which is maybe as it should be.

I can't help but compare it to Catherine House, which I also read recently, and where there was also creepy research going on, but it was all draped in that glorious Gothic atmosphere. Here, it's set in the most banal cubicle hell you can imagine.

Full review to come once I figure out how I want to rate it.
Jen (LOHF/Book Den)
I read Lakewood with the Ladies of Horror Fiction Goodreads group. I didn't realize Lakewood was being compared to The Handmaid's Tale. I also see now appropriate comparisons to Catherine House. I'm not a fan of either of those works so I want to start out by saying I'm probably not the right audience for Lakewood.

The exploration of medical experimentation and race in Lakewood was chilling, and I loved Megan Gidding's writing style.

I like there to be a strong balance between plot and character d
Tara Reads (formerly known as) Book Reviews by Tara
Chilling, intense and suspenseful are just some of the words that best describes the novel Lakewood by Megan Giddings.

Faced with financial hardship after the passing of her grandmother, the book’s protagonist Lena agrees to become a participant in The Lakewood Project, which is a government sponsored research study. This project is a series of research studies about mind, memory, personality, and perception. As a participant in the study Lena will receive free health care, a weekly stipend and
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Ladies of Horror ...: February 2021 Readalong: Lakewood by Megan Giddings 39 114 Apr 08, 2021 12:21PM  

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