Today we’re spotlighting Augland by Erin Carrougher!
Read on for more about Erin, her book, and a giveaway!
Meet Erin Carrougher:
Erin Carrougher lives in the Seattle area and was more than suited to write about the region as the location of her dystopian novel. She has a passion for storytelling and loves to envision worlds other than our own. Carrougher minored in Creative Writing and currently works as a Sales Manager, and enjoys cooking and the outdoors. Augland is Carrougher’s first novel.
About the Book Augland:
No matter how hard she tries, Ashton cannot keep her head down. Not after Sheva is dragged off a train in front of her.
Augland 54 is the Pacific Northwest’s most extravagant theme park. Those with Suits choose the body they want and live the life of their dreams…and those without Suits work for the Artificial Existence Center, or AEC. As long as the workers keep their heads down, Augland provides food and shelter from the post-war world outside its domed walls.
When Ashton is sent to the new Land of Legends park, she discovers that Augland is keeping secrets—inside and outside of its walls—and they’re more violent than she ever expected. So she decides to fight back. After all, if Augland is going to make her dress up as a red-headed warrior princess, then she’s more than willing to become one.
In a corporation-ruled world inhabited by the augmented bodies of the wealthy, securely cut off from the rest in life-extending pods, Ashton exposes the sham of corporate success and refuses to remain a cog in the machine. The only thing that matters now is freedom.
Ashton looked into the brilliant sunset reflected across the water on the distant horizon. She knew the enhanced colors weren’t real (the outside climate was far too cold and drizzly for this manufactured beach paradise), but she liked to pretend, even for a moment, that the heat, the sunset, and the perfect specimens walking past her were authentic.
Even after three years of working at Maya Bay, Ashton was still in awe of its artificial beauty. White sand and crystal-blue water stretched out for miles. Lush green trees and staggering cliffs created a sheltered cove around the restaurant where she worked as a server, and she daily admired the manufactured beauty. Down on the beach, crowds of Suits were headed toward one of several Maya Bay Resorts or to the Suit Transit Station, which would take them back to the parks where they lived. Their perfect artificial bodies set against the flawless landscape almost made Ashton believe that Augland was a real paradise.
Behind her in the restaurant, Marius was wiping down the bar, scrubbing the counter vigorously. He didn’t look up at Ashton as she passed him to clear off a recently vacated table. He had his favorite servers, and Ashton was not one of them.
They had worked together since Ashton first arrived at Maya Bay. They quickly became friends, a relationship that lasted even after Marius was promoted to manager. A few months earlier, however, their friendship had taken a turn for the worse when Marius revealed his romantic intentions. Ashton wasn’t one to continue anything under false pretenses. Suffice it to say, Marius hadn’t taken the rejection well.
“Ashton,” he said curtly, not looking up from the already spotless counter he was still wiping. He was short, with sandy blond hair that swept to the right and large, coke-bottle glasses that made him strangely intimidating. “I still see water marks.”
Marius pointed with his towel toward the table Ashton had just cleaned. She followed the damp rag with her eyes to the empty table between the bar and patio full of Suits. Ashton nodded, acknowledging his request, and continued carrying her full tray to the kitchen.
“Now, Ashton,” he said with a stern voice. Ashton jumped at his sudden spike in volume. It wasn’t uncommon for Marius to act in a controlling manner; it was how he liked to lead the staff, to find their weakness and exploit it to show his authority. He was fond of power plays and testing boundaries. Ashton turned and headed toward the table she had just cleared.
“No problem,” she said, turning back to the table and wiping harder than she normally would. Marius hovered around her for a while as she worked and then made his way back to his office. Ashton sighed in relief as he rounded the corner past the kitchen and out of sight.
Nearby, Niall spoke to a Suit sitting alone at a patio table. “Oh, Sandra, you get me every time!” he flirted. Sandra came in each evening at 8:30 p.m. on the dot. She ordered the same meal—a tropical mai tai, macadamia-encrusted sea bass, and mashed potatoes—while looking over the beautiful view of the beach.
Just like the sky and the Suits, the food wasn’t real either. It certainly looked like real food but was, in reality, a similar-looking substance that allowed Suits to “eat” while sending taste codes via transmitters to their taste buds back in the pods. That was one of the privileges of living in a Suit: you could eat and drink whatever you wanted and never gain a single pound.
Sometimes, Ashton imagined the real human bodies of the Suits, overweight and ugly inside their pods. Niall said she was just jealous. But Ashton didn’t think that was it; the thought of her body submerged in goo in a pod while her Suit traipsed around an Augland park being served by the underprivileged Suit-less workers didn’t appeal to her.
Sandra’s Suit was gorgeous: dark skin, brown eyes, and in great shape. She didn’t wear a shirt, only a bikini top. Most of the Suits in Maya Bay looked like models: tall and thin with no blemishes. Some Suits kept their own faces, but most designed their artificial bodies to increasingly outrageous perfection.
“All right, you ready for another one, Niall?” crooned Sandra.
Since their days training at Victorian, Ashton and Niall had been inseparable. Victorian was a historic theme park in Augland 54 where workers trained before heading out to their final posts in other Augland 54 parks. There, the workers lived with Suits in their Victorian mansions, waiting on them day and night.
Before Niall had been placed in her mansion, Ashton was considered a “wild child” with little regard for authority and always getting into trouble. Niall helped her understand the way of Victorian, Augland 54, and the Artificial Existence Center (AEC) as a whole. Work hard, blend in, keep your head down, make your way up the system. If you were really lucky, you could end up in the Executive Office, where you would get a Suit of your own. Niall knew how it worked and played the system well. He took Ashton under his wing and became like a brother to her. Every day, Ashton thought about how lucky she was that, after Victorian, they had been placed in the same park, Maya Bay. Besides Sheva, who kept her company on the train each day, Niall was her only real friend.
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Author: Erin Carrougher
Release Date: Dec. 6, 2022
Publisher: Morgan James Fiction
Genre: YA SciFi
Age Range: 13-18 years
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