The future of America is bleak in Olson’s debut novel, The Sandcastle Empire. A group of anarchists, called the Wolfpack, overthrow all systems of social and governmental order, flipping the classes. The haves are thrown into gulags and the have-nots now control everything. The East and West coast are underwater and global warming is threatening the world. The only choice is to build underwater pods. Eden escapes her gulag with three other runaways and sail for Sanctuary Island, a mysterious safe haven for anyone who can find it.
Olson’s writing style is poetic. Eden reflects deeply on herself, her surroundings, and other people’s motivations. The first person narration is immersive; the jungle and the fear are real. The worldbuilding is unique and fascinating. There’s room for this novel to grow into a series and Leonardo DiCaprio’s production firm, Appian Way Productions, has purchased the rights for The Sandcastle Empire. Expect to hear more about this thought-provoking YA dystopian novel.