Book Review by Nicole: Welcome to Orphancorp, by Marlee Jane Ward

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Welcome to Orphancorp, by Marlee Jane Ward
Publisher: Xou Pty Ltd
Release Date: August 2015

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


A sharp-edged semi-futuristic riff about a rebellious teenager’s last week at an industrial orphanage.


Pansexual Character
Young Adult


I read this novella on very little information, which I consequently think is the very best way to go into this story!

Mirii is a young aboriginal girl who lives in an Orphancorp in this dystopian world. Ophancorps are populated by Aunties and Uncles– and of course the orphans themselves, who are charged with what is more or less slave labour until the time they are 18 years old and ‘age out’, hopefully into the real world, and not a Prisoncorp. Though we never actually get a glimpse of any Prisoncorps, the impressions of them are chilling enough.

This story tells the last seven days of Mirii’s stay in an Orphancorp, falling in love with Adeline Vu, her period within Time Out, and the loyalty of friendship and kindness within a place where that’s hard to find. I especially loved the short moment between Mirii and the nonbinary character Ara, and the fact that neither that nor her romance with Vu were made a bigger deal of. They just were. Such is the beauty of the best written sci-fi and dystopia.

It’s really moving to read this story, with Marlee Jane’s gorgeous and evocative prose that go through the horrors and the highs that are permitted to go on. Even Auntie Bev, who is not a particularly nice person, seems wholly beneficent as she merely follows the protocol towards the end.

The story doesn’t necessarily give a happy ending so much as an ending where there is hope of… something. I’m equally torn between loving this story as a stand alone, and also wanting more set in this world.


I’m a writer, reader and weirdo from Melbourne, Australia. I grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales and studied creative writing at the University of Wollongong. I attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in 2014.

You can find my short stories at Interfictions, Terraform, Apex, Aurealis, Adromeda Spaceways Magazine, The Sockdolager, Mad Scientist Journal, Slink Chunk and in the Hear Me Roar and In Your Face anthologies.

My debut novella, Welcome To Orphancorp, won the Viva La Novella Prize and the Victorian Premiers Literary Award for YA Fiction. The sequel, Psynode, is out May 2017.

I like dreaming of the future, cats, and making an utter spectacle of myself.

Twitter: @marleejaneward

You can purchase Welcome to Orphancorp from:
Google Play
Barnes & Noble

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I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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