Lakewood by Megan Giddings


Megan Giddings

fiction Science Fiction
challenging dark mysterious medium-paced

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A startling debut about class and race, Lakewood evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation—part The Handmaid’s Tale, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan.

On paper, her new job is too good to be true. High paying. No out of pocket medical expenses. A free place to live. All Lena has to do is participate in a secret program—and lie to her friends and family about the research being done in Lakewood. An eye drop that makes brown eyes blue, a medication that could be a cure for dementia, golden pills promised to make all bad thoughts go away.

The discoveries made in Lakewood, Lena is told, will change the world—but the consequences for the subjects involved could be devastating. As the truths of the program reveal themselves, Lena learns how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of her family.

Provocative and thrilling, Lakewood is a breathtaking novel that takes an unflinching look at the moral dilemmas many working-class families face, and the horror that has been forced on black bodies in the name of science.

What the community thinks

summary of 127 ratings (see reviews)

Content warnings

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Body horror (2 reviewers), Chronic illness (1 reviewer), Racism (1 reviewer), Blood (1 reviewer), Medical content (1 reviewer), and Medical trauma (1 reviewer)


Cancer (1 reviewer), Drug use (1 reviewer), Emotional abuse (1 reviewer), Gore (1 reviewer), Gun violence (1 reviewer), and Racism (1 reviewer)


Cancer (1 reviewer) and Death (1 reviewer)


dark 97%
tense 67%
mysterious 64%
challenging 50%
sad 23%
reflective 17%
informative 11%
emotional 8%


medium 75%
slow 15%
fast 9%

Strong character development?

Yes: 43% | It's complicated: 26% | No: 26% | N/A: 4%

Loveable characters?

It's complicated: 37% | Yes: 33% | No: 20% | N/A: 8%

Diverse cast of characters?

Yes: 96% | It's complicated: 3%

Flaws of characters centre-stage?

Yes: 36% | It's complicated: 31% | No: 21% | N/A: 10%

Average rating


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