THE HOPE STORE

by Dwight Okita

Verdict: THE HOPE STORE presents an original an interesting concept and a unique ride.

IR Rating

 
 

2.5

IR Rating

Kazu and Luke are two business partners and life partners, who together have opened a store in Chicago that promises to change the world. The Hope Store combines the latest science research and some savvy marketing: the upshot is, for about a thousand dollars, they have a machine that is supposed to make you more hopeful. Jada, a perpetually hopeless person, becomes an early adopter and sometimes critic. Meanwhile, hundreds of so-called Natural Hopers take to the streets, protesting the Hope Store as an abomination.

Dwight Okita’s THE HOPE STORE is an interesting idea, not to mention a sci-fi thought experiment in the purest sense. The idea of creating hope in a lab and selling it in a store has a number of different possible avenues for exploration; for instance, if it created a world where only the rich could afford hope; or if all the extra hope just made people more careless and foolish; or even the Natural Hopers as an anti-vaxx-like group of stubborn neo-luddites. This concept could easily produce a satire of capitalism or the pharmaceutical industry, a Black Mirror-esque dystopia, or any number of interesting stories. But THE HOPE STORE is never really interested in any of that. That this book isn’t dystopian fiction is fine of itself, but the problem is, it never really establishes what it is instead. This book has a concept; what it doesn’t have is an angle. It’s too low on plot and conflict to keep too strong of an arc.

Ostensibly, we follow Kazu and Luke as they struggle to get their business off the ground, but their business’ enemies, the Natural Hopers, never have enough agency or a sufficiently fleshed out agenda to leave much doubt that their business will succeed.  Jada, in her struggles with suicidal depression and suicidal hopelessness, is a little more compelling, and she has a far more complete arc to boot. But Jada, compelling as her arc may sometimes be, is only about half this story. The characters in the book are also in need of a bit more fleshing out. Characterization is not helped by occasional corny lines of dialogue, like “Carry on, will ya. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200” and “To tell you the honest truth, Jada – 95% of any scientific discovery is pure science. But that last 5%? It’s a mystery. It’s magic.” Of the characters, the best is probably Jada, who throughout the book comes across as suitably sassy and clever.

THE HOPE STORE is never sure what it wants to be. It takes fairly interesting concepts and characters, and then it doesn’t do much with them. This is a novel with plenty of atmosphere and setup, but not nearly enough payoff.

~Chaz Baker for IndieReader

 

4 replies
  1. avatar
    Nick Salvatore says:

    The Hope Store is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a while, with a very clever premise. Unfortunately, the above review seemed to consider the real life political and social implications of an actual Hope Store, and missed the whole point completely. This is a spiritual book, not one intended to push an agenda or make one consider if the concept would actually work. It’s fiction to be enjoyed and reminded me a little of those great Philip K. Dick stories that always end up as movies. This book would make a very cool film.

    Okita’s follow-up to his novel The Prospect of My Arrival shows the author to be interested in the spiritual genre. If you like stories about the “what if” concepts of the universe, you’ll enjoy this book. It’s really unlike anything that’s out there today.

    Reply
  2. avatar
    Charles Moore says:

    I enjoyed The Hope Store tremendously and that is a big step for me as I do not read much of the sic-fi genre. I was really intrigued with Jada as she stretched the truth a bit to buy into the program and as she wasn’t completely honest it backfired on her. I felt that the ending was a real page turner wondering what she was going to do as she contemplated suicide.

    Aside from the plot, as a Chicago resident, I particularly enjoyed the references to Chicago neighborhoods and businesses. That made it more real for me.

    I think it is an excellent book, in fact so much so, that I bought copies for some of my friends and I look forward to more from Dwight Okita.

    Reply
  3. avatar
    dwightokita says:

    In the spirit of finding richness in the diversity of opinions, here are a few more opinions for readers to consider, to add to the conversation:
    .
    “The Hope Store is a deceptively simple, engrossing read. Okita’s research to create a believable therapeutic process is quite commendable and thought-provoking… Okita clearly has a love for science and magical realism and mixes that with an uncommon amount of empathy and interspersonal dynamics. You will want to know how everyone ultimately copes with the sudden infusion of hope in their lives… and might perhaps find yourself wishing said store was a place you could go.”
    — WINDY CITY TIMES, Chicago’s leading LGBT
    newspaper, Liz Baudler
    .
    “This book was great. Jada Upshaw is an incredibly complex, and let’s face it, bitter character – she tries to commit suicide multiple times during the course of the book… She has so many emotions and she’s so human and I think the author did an incredible job showing us that. The plot was well-made, and it switches between the points-of-view of Jada and Luke. The scenes are wonderfully written and though simple, hold volumes of emotion. You should all read it.”
    — THAT BINGE READER blog, Iya Albitos.
    Iya is a busy Filipina teen who loves books.
    .
    “Set in a Chicago of the future, the story opens with Jada Upshaw, an amazing, multi-dimensional character….I highly recommend The Hope Store. I found it cerebral, sexy, and thought-provoking, as all Okita’s work is.”
    — BEST IN FANTASY Blog, Connie J. Jasperson
    .
    “Finally, the characters themselves spring to life in this very exciting story. Jada, Luke, Kazu, and even Blair Mathers (the journalist) are living, breathing people. They take you by the hand and pull you into their tiny, hopeful world.”
    — GIRL WHO READS Blog, Alison DeLuca
    .
    * Okita was named an “Author to Watch” by Best Indie Book Awards 2017 for The Hope Store*
    (see full author interview at:
    bestindiebookaward.com/live/category/authors-to-watch/)
    .
    His first novel THE PROSPECT OF MY ARRIVAL was a top 3 finalist out of 5,000 books in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. It’s about a human embryro that’s allowed to preview the world before deciding whether to be born. Affirmative Entertainment in Hollywood represents the author’s book-to-film projects. On Amazon, his book ranks high in the categories of Asian American books, and also LGBT science fiction books.
    .
    http://www.DwightOkita.com

    Reply
  4. avatar
    Mary Corcoran says:

    Dwight Okita, in “The Hope Store” offers us extremely interesting and important concepts to ponder and discuss. He is less trying to offer up new scientific ideas than he is trying to, through them, get to the heart of what we all deal with in life – and would cherish a “scientific” solution to! And if one might exist, what then?!… Can “hope” be “instilled” in someone without it?
    First and foremost, Dwight Okita is a very gifted poet (do Google his poetry) and a highly imaginative writer and spiritual person. He has extended his ideas and his writing “arm” into playwriting and novels in order to reach a broader audience. His concepts are fresh and new, often unique, and while labeled as “science fiction,” they lack all of the meaningless written or digitized special effects and extreme leaps into “suspended disbelief” most of those in this (and other) genres would have us take.
    Dwight Okita’s s books are truly about what could happen in our world, in the world of science in the future, and how it could impact us – just regular people – trying to survive life in general. Drop the mike, and the cell phone, and the computer, and the TV. How are you feeling in this “better” world? What do you need in your core?
    His thoughts, concepts, and books have great value to seriously connect with (most of the population) those of us who struggle with so many difficult emotional/mental states on so many levels. (Unless you are happy as a box of rocks or in denial.) Dwight Okita’s books open up discussion within oneself and in a group (even better)!
    I highly recommend this book for its self-searching, mind-opening premise. Excellent for book clubs or other groups where these concepts can be discussed. Also, “The Hope Store” is really valuable for the person out there who struggles with hope – to know that you are not, at all, alone. Dwight Okita, in “The Hope Store” offers us extremely interesting and important concepts to ponder and discuss. He is less trying to offer up new scientific ideas than he is trying to, through them, get to the heart of what we all deal with in life – and would cherish a “scientific” solution to! And if one might exist, what then?!… Can “hope” be “instilled” in someone without it?
    First and foremost, Dwight Okita is a very gifted poet (do Google his poetry) and a highly imaginative writer and spiritual person. He has extended his ideas and his writing “arm” into playwriting and novels in order to reach a broader audience. His concepts are fresh and new, often unique, and while labeled as “science fiction,” they lack all of the meaningless written or digitized special effects and extreme leaps into “suspended disbelief” most of those in this (and other) genres would have us take.
    Dwight Okita’s s books are truly about what could happen in our world, in the world of science in the future, and how it could impact us – just regular people – trying to survive life in general. Drop the mike, and the cell phone, and the computer, and the TV. How are you feeling in this “better” world? What do you need in your core?
    His thoughts, concepts, and books have great value to seriously connect with (most of the population) those of us who struggle with so many difficult emotional/mental states on so many levels. (Unless you are happy as a box of rocks or in denial.) Dwight Okita’s books open up discussion within oneself and in a group (even better)!
    I highly recommend this book for its self-searching, mind-opening premise. Excellent for book clubs or other groups where these concepts can be discussed. Also, “The Hope Store” is really valuable for the person out there who struggles with hope – to know that you are not, at all, alone

    Reply

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