Empire City

🐞 🐞 🐞


Matt Gallagher

Atria Books

April 28, 2020

368 Pages


Thirty years after its great triumph in Vietnam, the United States has again become mired in an endless foreign war overseas. Stories of super soldiers known as the Volunteers tuck in little American boys and girls every night. Yet domestic politics are aflame. Violent protests erupt throughout the nation; an ex-military watchdog group clashes with police while radical terrorists threaten to expose government experiments within the veteran rehabilitation colonies.

Halfway between war and peace, the Volunteers find themselves waiting for orders in the vast American city-state, Empire City. There they encounter a small group of civilians who know the truth about their powers, including Sebastian Rios, a young bureaucrat wrestling with survivor guilt, and Mia Tucker, a wounded army pilot-turned-Wall Street banker. Meanwhile, Jean-Jacques Saint-Preux, a Haitian-American Volunteer from the International Legion, decides he’ll do whatever it takes to return to the front lines.

Through it all, a controversial retired general emerges as a frontrunner in the presidential campaign, promising to save the country from itself. Her election would mean unprecedented military control over the country, with promises of security and stability—but at what cost?


I loved Youngblood so much, but Empire City left me disappointed.

It’s a quasi-dystopian novel, more of a “reimagined history” than straight 1984. There are also superheroes, which is okay—but maybe weird, especially since their powers are never fully explored or explained.

Ultimately, the book had the makings of something interesting, but it never sprouted wings for me. The writing that I loved in Youngblood just wasn’t here. Instead, the story felt preachy, kinda scattered, and a little boring, honestly.

Thanks to Atria for the ARC.

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