Backlist Burndown Review: Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
Also by this author: Broken Monsters
Published by Mulholland Books on August 16th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
A new paperback edition of Lauren Beukes's frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable that follows four narrators living in a dystopian near-future.
Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program. Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers. Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid. Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, these characters crackle with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, Lauren Beukes spins a tale of a utopia gone wrong, satirically undermining the idea of progress as society's white knight.
So, the first book I read by Lauren Beukes was her newest book, Broken Monsters. I really can’t stop gushing about how much I love that book. Since then I have been working backwards through her books, reading The Shining Girls and then Zoo City. With Mulholland’s upcoming release of new paperback editions for both Zoo City and Moxyland, I figured it was a great time to finally read Beukes’ first novel, the only one I have not read yet, Moxyland.
Moxyland follows four storylines in this near future dystopia. Each perspective spotlights a different aspects of this world and culture. I really enjoyed each of the four characters, even if I didn’t feel quite as connected to any of them as I would have preferred. But then, I think this is the nature of the story. With the focus being divided, there is less material to really attach you to each perspective. Plus I think the overall goal of the story was maybe not so much about the characters, but about the world they were living in. In that, the book definitely succeeded.
In some respects, the world sounds great. There is technology that can be injected, make a person more physically attractive, enhance their immune system to prevent illness, enhance their mind. Abandoned AIDs babies are adopted and supported by corporations, given a life where they are set up to be successful. They have taken gaming to entirely new level, creating a much more immersive and real experience.
But then there are the details you start to notice. There is the class structure and social hierarchy that divides people. Technology, while very cool in many ways, also provides some disturbing abilities for those people “in control”. Technology can also be used to shut a person off from everything. Their phones are cut off, and since everything (even opening doors, food, water) is controlled through their phone, it is like shutting down their life. Even for people that can see the danger in this technology, it is still so central to everything that the fear of being cut off is very real. Corporate sponsors can make people addicted to their products, causing severe cravings/withdrawal. Because if they are going to invest in enhancing someone, they want this beautiful person to now be seen *needing* their products. Yeah, nothing says great sales strategy quite like a forced addiction! They will also use people as test subjects for experimental technologies. Seriously, this place just gets creepier the more you learn about it.
Overall, Moxyland another great book for Beukes. Especially considering this is a debut novel. Seriously, if you have not read any of her books yet, you should try. I can’t wait to find out what she has in store for us next.
I have challenged and committed myself to reading at least one book from my backlist every month and posting the review on the last Friday of the month. I invite anyone interested to join me and link up their own Backlist Burndown reviews. I will offer the link at the bottom of my monthly Backlist Burndown reviews, and also will keep a running record of the reviews on my Dracarys! Backlist Burndown page available from my top menu.