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Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism
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Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism

(The Book of the Juke #1)

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  747 ratings  ·  155 reviews
The year is 1911.

In Cold Spring Harbour, New York, the newly formed Eugenics Records Office is sending its agents to catalogue the infirm, the insane, and the criminal—with an eye to a cull, for the betterment of all.

Near Cracked Wheel, Montana, a terrible illness leaves Jason Thistledown an orphan, stranded in his dead mother’s cabin until the spring thaw shows him the tr
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 15th 2011 by ChiZine Publications (first published January 1st 2011)
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David Nickle
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3.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  747 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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reading the sequel/bumping the first one - READ IT!

like deliverance...with monsters!

CZP is three for three!!

i love this book. i always ask people to recommend me some good horror books because i just can't get scared by books, and i want to feel that lovely shivery feeling of "what's that noise!!??" "what is that shadow doing?? ahhhhhh!!" and while it's true i slept fine after reading this - i wasn't cowering in my bed with the blankets pulled up over my face for protection, there were several s
Paul Bryant
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels

Yes oh all right huh, surely - oh I see, no I don't see – what? All of them? Who's – oh yes. No! he would not do that. Ow, that must have – get him! No, her, not him. Ulp ergh. Too gynaecological! Dead Ringers meets Deliverance meets The Thing? Ha ha. What's this? God? God? Ridiculous. Author gone mad. This is the perfect Christmas present for your maiden aunt – the one you hope will die soon and leave you her house. Might speed up the process. Eurgh, I did not need that. Oh – aargh – ma
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I really wanted to give this book 5 stars, but the last 1/4 of the story was a little underwhelming. The story of Jason Thistledown and the peculiar town of Eliada, Idaho is for the most part an intriguing tale; the extraordinary and transcendental happenings of a small mid-western town in the early 20th century which include KKK clansmen, degenerate hill folk, and an African Cave Germ provide enough mystery to keep the reader interested. When you tie in Nazi eugenics experiments, divine visions ...more
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
First published in April 2011 by ChiZine Publications, David Nickle’s novel of eerie horror entitled ‘Eutopia’ sets down a firm and establishing platform for the Canadian author to show the world his dark and imaginative capabilities.

DLS Synopsis:

Set in the bygone year of 1911, Jason Thistledown lays down his deceased mother in their nearby barn, leaving the seventeen-year-old alone in the world once and for all. With spring on its way and the unforgiving snow finally thawing, Jason sets his min
Chris Berko
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Definitely in the running for the weirdest book I've ever come across. It reads like a science fiction-y story mixed with horror/medical thriller stuff but it takes place in the early 1900s and it has gunslingers, the KKK, mad doctors, really cool women, redneck-angel-messiahs, and a substance that is kind of like a hallucinogenic out-of-control germ that likes to kill large swaths of the population all at once. This was weird without being stupid or gratuitously esoteric and I have to say that ...more
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
So this book is Karen's staff rec. and I think on her staff rec thingy she described it as "deliverance with monsters", but I had it before then when what stuck out from her review was plague, hill people, and eugenics. So when I started reading this and it as clearly about monsters I was more than a little confused. When David asked me yesterday what I was reading, I told him something about monsters, he responded "the drug addict aliens" and of course I had to say no that was another book. Whi ...more
Jim Cherry
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I’m not the best judge of horror, but I’ve read Lovecraft, Poe, King, and good writing is good writing. Good writing carries over to a book regardless of genre. And there’s plenty of good writing in David Nickle’s “Eutopia.”

“Eutopia” is set in the early 20th century and explores the world of American utopian movements, and the almost instantly corruptible science of Eugenics, how easily our desires for a utopian society can be exploited and corrupted no matter how idealistic the original intent.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
I was expecting this to be a story about the horrors of eugenics, but the whole eugenics aspect is more of a background thing. It gives the main character believable motivation, but other than that, the plot is a pretty run-of-the-mill monster story. It was creepy and well-written, sure. And the author gets bonus points for leaving some questions unanswered - horror is always scarier this way. I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it enough to bother with the sequel anytime soon.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it
An early (2011) entry in the Lovecraftian-but-confronting-Lovecraft's-awful-worldview genre, which is probably reaching its saturation point these days. Unlike the more recent examples, this one isn't explicitly a Mythos tale, but does take place in 1911, and features not-so-eldritch creatures and backwoods cultists, but also "rational" eugenicists (hence the titular wordplay).

We have two protagonists here - Andrew Waggoner, a black doctor, and Jason Thistledown, a white country boy who just lo
Nick Cato
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Sometime in 1911, Jason Thistledown's mother dies. He keeps her body in a barn and does his best to survive the rest of the snowy winter on their isolated pig farm. As soon as spring approaches, an aunt he didn't know he had shows up and explains that his mother has died of a strange illness. Jason's Aunt Germaine then takes him away from his hometown (where he learns everyone has died of the same illness) and brings him to a mountainous area of Idaho known as Eliada.

Meanwhile, Eliada is having
Jessica Strider
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Pros: excellent writing, courageous, tight ending/

Cons: the supernatural aspect isn't as scary as the historically accurate parts/

Eutopia takes place in the early 1900's when the eugenics movement was becoming popular with a certain type of people. Mrs Frost, an agent of the Eugenics Records Office finds her nephew is the sole survivor of a plague ravaged frontier town. She brings him with her to Eilada, Idaho, where an industrialist has started what he intends to be a utopic community./

But not
This is copy 4 of 41 signed numbered copies.
Danielle Donaldson
Sep 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Eutopia was the kind of book that got into my head, seriously, I've been dreaming about it.

The writing is very tight but descriptive and honest enough that it felt like I was diving into a Nickle's recreation of Idaho in 1911 every time that I picked it up. So much so that it was very jarring to return back to the "real" world when I had to put it down. Despite that, I read it in a little over two days and am still thinking about the historical and supernatural aspects.

There was enough descrip
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
2.5 stars

This started out as a 4 star read for me. The beginning had mysteries and then a few very creepy scenes. Unfortunately as I learned more of what were behind the mysteries, the story had less of a creepy atmosphere and contained more icky scenes instead. On top of that, I felt like there were too many various elements thrown into the story that all were supposed to mesh together. It was just a bit over the top to me. The last 40 pages or so was a 1-2 star read.

Overall, I give this book a
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a top runner for weirdest book I have ever read. I need to think about it for a bit before I do a full review. I honestly don't even know what I would say in a review about it right now other than so weird and disturbing at parts (many parts).
Oct 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism is horror in its purest form. It takes us to the darkest corners of the human mind, to our never-ending thrive for perfection, our feeble search for heaven on earth, and the many traps we encounter by doing so. It explores the parts of our mind that are searching for our own Utopia, and exposes this as our true weakness. With an accurate and beautifully displayed historical setting (early 20th century America) and interesting main characters, David Nickle of ...more
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Noting special here. I felt that something was missing and in truth I wasn`t so captivated by the story or the characters, so this was just an two stars read.

Not my cup of tea.
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
***may contain spoilers***

bleeaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhrrrrrr....OK, that's the sound of three hundred pages of "willies" catching up with me. I'll be thinking about this one for a while yet. It's probably a compliment that I'm going to deeply and carefully consider each Chizine book I read from now on....Eesh.

The book arrived in the mail a few days ago; on the thumbnail, the picture looks pretty innocuous, just some old-fashioned girl like Nellie Olsen from Little House on the Prairie. In person, though
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
It's 1911. Underneath the idyllic surface of small town Eliada, eugenics is being studied and the town may have reasons for its seemingly perfect inhabitants. I first read about the American eugenics program in Jodi Picoult's Second Glance and it was that subject that made me want to read Eutopia. It's a part of American history that has been swept under the carpet, for understandable reasons. However, eugenics is used as a vehicle for the plot here and I didn't learn much more than I already kn ...more
May 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I think Eugenics, without any help or added extras, is a creepy subject to begin with; practice of it is a horror in itself. Human beings are usually influenced by their emotions and their belief systems, and I think Eugenics gives a human being too much capability, and excuse, to be a bigot. In my opinion, Eugenics can never be a practice without prejudice, and the idea of people in power practicing it is horrifying (Hitler is a great example of this). Eugenics is a great format to delve into i ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
DNF at 52%. This novel started very well, with very good writing and a strong first chapter. It promised a story about racism, at the time that eugenics ideas were becoming accepted by science and even practiced on some level. The characters were good and interesting, and the plot moved along in a pace that kept my interest and made me care what happens next. And then things started going very wrong. Instead of exposing the terrors of eugenics and saying something new about racism and how degene ...more
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
It was interesting to read this book immediately after reading The White Devil because the only thing that Justin Evan's novel does completely and absolutely right is the only beef I could conceivably have with what's wrong about Eutopia. I'm talking about the sense of place, the descriptives that place a reader in the era that a story is meant to take place. Ostensibly, Eutopia takes place in 1911, but nothing in the book really made me think "Oh yeah, 1911".

References to the Ku Kluz Klan? Yes
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
The premise of this book sounded so interesting, and I couldn't wait to start it. It started off with promise, but then the story began to unravel and ultimately I found myself disappointed. When the story took a turn I didn't quite expect, I went with it, but in the end felt the it should have stayed more focused on the concept of Eugenics and not strayed to the supernatural. To me, the idea of a group trying to "cleanse" society is far more frightening than some backwoods monsters.
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-reads
A friend's grandmother once commented on her granddaughter's love of horror films featuring "stuff coming out the woods people ain't never even heard of." Well, Eutopia fits into that... uh, genre. It's billed as Lovecraftian, but the real horror of this novel is mankind's hubris. Highly recommended; super-duper gross.

I read it in one sitting. True, it was my entertainment during a 12-hour travel day, but it kept me less resentful of that!
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it
What an odd book. Reading it felt like listening to someone try to tell you about a dream they had: full of powerful images and gripping stories, all of which fail, by just a very little bit, to quite get across or make complete sense.

I'm just the sort of terrible human being who can say, from experience, that there are MUCH better books about eugenics out there.
Kurt Dinan
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it
One of my favorites of last year. Unsettling and cerebral.
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: every one!!
Shelves: science-fiction
(Mon compte-rendu en français plus bas.)

I was so deeply entranced with this story that I decided to begin and finish eight other books, so as to keep my buzz going.

The universe, characters, and especially Dave Nickle's voice, are as compelling as the creatures haunting this remote mountains. More rave later, because I am now working on my two next novels!

****** (two months later, here comes the review...)*********

Beware of an utopia in construction!

Eutopia was so poignant, the universe so comp
Jun 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shall I Download A Black Hole And Offer It To You
probably a 3.5-ish...
the first half of the book was amazing... just enough hints that things were a bit off, OK, way off... still, vague enough to make you wonder, but obviously there was more to the story than some crackpots forming some sort of eugenics-fed utopia whilst battling the locals ingrates for territorial supremacy... a couple well-placed words, known to those who read amidst the dark side, left little doubt something nightmarish was afoot... but then the tale just gets really dialog
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David Nickle is the author of several novels and numerous short stories. His latest novel, VOLK: A Novel of Radiant Abomination, is available from ChiZine Publications. His novel Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism (to which VOLK is a sequel) was a finalist for the Aurora Award, the Sunburst Award and the Compton Crook Award. His story collection Monstrous Affections won the 2009 Black Quill Rea ...more

Other books in the series

The Book of the Juke (2 books)
  • Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination
“...he could feel hot tears coming to his eyes as the image of that night, outside the house as the November wind blew black leaves up off the ground and the sky turned colors like bruised flesh.” 4 likes
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