A Novel by Pattie Palmer-Baker
(First Edition, Del Sol Press, Released May 2019, ISBN: 978-0-999842553)
New 2nd Edition, Atmosphere Press, Released Nov 2022, ISBN: 978-1-639887-22-4
Set in an alternate world, MALL is a place where everyone is beautiful, and everyone is employed so they have enough income to consume and to experience a myriad of pleasures–drugs, gambling, theater, holographic adventures. No poverty and little or no crime. A lot of sex.
But what’s the catch? And what happens when Sara, a 21st century woman, accidentally finds her way into this alien yet familiar world? Nona, a MALL mental health practitioner treats Sara upon her arrival, and goes against Mall code to help her acclimate. But Sara desperately wants to get home, and as she seeks a way out as well as answers about her new reality, she draws herself and Nona into the darker places and practices of MALL—the lower levels with orgiastic dance clubs and black market spiritual counseling—until it’s not just Sara who wonders where she belongs.
Things aren’t all beauty and pleasure. Sara attends a gambling session where people bet on living more years when their “number’s up” and a “passing ceremony,” where Mallites are supposedly resurrected into a new life. Junkers, outsiders lurking on the fringes of MALL, have been working for years to discover an exit, based on rumors of those who made it Outside and were never heard from again, creating increasingly dangerous disturbances to fight Mall Management’s control. Through them Sara and Nona meet someone who might help them escape and they both must make the choice that will change their lives forever. Who will risk leaving and who will decide to stay?
Advance Praise for Mall
“It was the most original idea and kudos to the author for managing those dueling viewpoints. We can all relate to going to a mall we’ve never been to and getting swept up in the flow… and then, where IS the exit?!”
“In her award-winning novel Mall, Pattie Palmer-Baker creates a vivid dystopian world where the Code governs every aspect of life. For example, Mallite children are tested and then trained for employment they’ll own for life, and everyone must provide a pleasurable experience for people looking at them; hence, clothes and good looks are highly valued.
“Palmer-Baker not only creates memorable characters like Nona, an expert Mental Health Practitioner, who slowly becomes disillusioned with this near-perfect world, but infuses her novel with a language that reveals much about the lives of Mallites.
“Drugs are innocuously called pharms. Pair-knots are lovers by contract. Heart-friends are contracted friends. Mem-wipes are punishments for infractions. Junkers are underground rebels who disrupt the controlled rhythms of daily life in an effort to find a way out of the Mall.
“Of course, the central question the novel poses is: Is there really a Portal that leads to Outside? Do discontents ever find it? Is Outside really a better world – or is it just another dystopia?
“Palmer-Baker’s Mall is an unforgettable journey to discover those answers.”
“Engrossing. Readers who were magnetized twenty-five years ago reading Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award winner, The Giver, will be magnetized again, as adults, reading Mall.”
Chapter One (excerpt)
“I want to be clear, Natalie: are you saying that you’re having sex with this man more often than the Code dictates unless pair-bonded?” Nona asked, fidgeting slightly.
Natalie nodded, red curls bobbing. “Sometimes. The sex is good, but that’s not why I seek out his company. I can’t find the words to …”