Tag: dystopian

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Book Review: Individutopia – Joss Sheldon

Individutopia is enjoyable to read, whether you read it at face value or consider the political/dystopian elements of the plot. Now, I’m not much of a politician, so don’t expect too much rambling from me on that side of the fence. I do think some of the ideas, although extreme, are interesting though. I’ll discuss that in more detail later.

 

*** I was kindly provided with a copy of Individutopia by the author in exchange for a review. All the opinions stated are my own***

Individutopia

Goodreads – Individutopia

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SOCIETY

Beloved friend,

The year is 2084, and that famous Margaret Thatcher quote has become a reality: There really is no such thing as society. No one speaks to anyone else. No one looks at anyone else. People don’t collaborate, they only compete.

I hate to admit it, but this has had tragic consequences. Unable to satisfy their social urges, the population has fallen into a pit of depression and anxiety. Suicide has become the norm.

It all sounds rather morbid, does it not? But please don’t despair, there is hope, and it comes in the form of our hero: Renee Ann Blanca. Wishing to fill the society-shaped hole in her life, our Renee does the unthinkable: She goes in search of human company! It’s a radical act and an enormous challenge. But that, I suppose, is why her tale’s worth recounting. It’s as gripping as it is touching, and I think you’re going to love it…

Your trusty narrator,

PP

 

My Thoughts…

Our narrator is a consistent 3rd person, following the life of Renee Ann Blanca quite intimately. Born into a world with scarcely any human contact, she is raised by a robot until she is old enough to fend for herself. She lives in a pod she cannot even stand in and surrounds herself with virtual avatars to make up for the lack of human company. Renee is stuck in a monotonous, desperate lifestyle of competing against others… until she breaks free.

Individutopia is a nice length – not so short that you don’t have time to get into the narrative but equally it isn’t repetitive, or slow. The light, conversational tone makes the topic less formal and therefore more approachable to the potential reader. In an informal fashion, the novel portrays the differences in the two parallels – society and individualism. I find the tone of the book to help in achieving this without being rigid, forced, or dull.

The time period the narrative takes place in is some years into our future. The social (or lack of) environment is completely alien and to an extent, a degree of world building is required to set the scene. Joss achieves this well, by introducing the reader to various aspects of the “alternative world” (for want of a phrase) gradually and consistently. Clearly, a lot of time and effort has gone into developing this novel. It pays off.

There are a few elements of Invidutopia’s narrative that are a little closer to home than we may like to think. Everything is a competition. Renee is constantly ranked against others. The mindset Renee grows up with is to work, constantly. Those that do not are shamed for it… practically spat upon, if they could see each other to do it, that is.

 

Individutopia today?

Are we pitted against each other? Are we pressured to be the best or look the best now, never mind in this dystopian world? Absolutely! Magazines, television and social media have proven to be huge catalysts to this ideology. Social media has also proven a nasty culprit for isolation – isn’t that ironic.

And here is another thought, ladies, and gents. Be honest, how many of you opt to put your headphones and listen to music privately in your downtime?

I do. I’m guilty. Once upon a time, our forebears couldn’t get out of that awkward chat on public transport by putting headphones in, or spend their lunch hour avoiding as many people as possible. Are we already setting ourselves up for an individualistic world in the future? I hope that nothing as extreme as that in Individutopia comes to pass. It’s an interesting question though.

 

Review: The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Aloha fellow book fiends!! I have for you today my review of The Maze Runner, written by James Dashner!
As I mentioned in my post on Sunday, when I regularly give you all a little preview of the week ahead, this book is one of the exceptions to the general rule I have adopted. I watched the film first! Shock horror – I hear you cry! I know a lot of other book fans prefer to read first. Do let me know if you are of a different opinion mind, I’m keen to know!!
Personally, watching the film sold the book to me – If I hadn’t watched it I may not have picked the book up. I find though, given that I am highly biased towards reading and then watching… I was worried the book wouldn’t live up to the film. I was pleasantly surprised though, I still preferred the book but equally didn’t feel disappointed by the film for not being of equal expectation. Maybe there is some merit to doing things the wrong way around after all!!
The Maze Runner
GoodReads – The Maze Runner

If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Everything is going to change.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.
Remember. Survive. Run.

What is it about?
We pick up the story from the perspective of Thomas, who finds himself in a new and harsh environment surrounded by other young adult boys. When Thomas enters the Glade he knows only two things for sure – his name, and that he must become a Runner…the Elite – the best of the best. Having lost all other memory, he quickly has to adapt to his new life in the Glade, however, he finds himself unwelcome by some and when things start to go wrong, suspicion and blame follow him everywhere.
Then, the most unusual thing happens. The first female enters the Glade. Things go from bad to worse, and in order to survive the Gladers have to face the Grievers and escape the maze.
My thoughts
I was actually impressed with the diversity of the characters within the book; in particular I liked how there are different levels of maturity among the youths. For example, everybody is made to work, growing crops, tending animals and a few other unsavoury jobs just to name a few. Also, there is a democracy of leaders representing all the Gladers when it comes to big decisions that have to be made.
Equally, there are the inevitable bolshy characters, aggression, and bullying that can be expected from the young men. Sorry guys – this isn’t a pointed remark at you or anything like that… it’s just that in this case, 99% of the Glade population is male. In my humble opinion, girls can be just as bad worse. WORSE. The youths have also developed some of their own language, which is very reminiscent of people (sadly a lot of them are my age) today. Having read an article including 28 slang words used on the internet today (link), I only knew three of the more obscure ones. The first, and probably the one I fucking hate the most, is “fam”. The other two are “AF” and “salty”. I think that probably tells you a hell of a lot about me.
Emma Stone sarcasm
Now that I’m done being a savage and throwing shade (too much? – okay I’ll stop) at some of the language choices of people my age today, I’ll get back to my review…
I’m not going to lie, there were times when I really wanted Thomas to get a grip. Yeah, I get it, self-doubt and finding oneself is a big part of being a teenager. Having come out of the other side of my teenage years with a “don’t like me, well screw you” attitude, I found Thomas’ doubting and uncertainty frustrating. I would like to think in the situation I would just make the best of a bad situation and get on with it, but who knows until you end up in it.  Everyone is different. I am not saying he is unjustified in his thoughts and fears, I just don’t like it personally.
One of my pet peeves is that the book and the film get to the ending differently. As ever, books and their TV adaptations, they are just that, aren’t ever going to be identical, (unless you watch The Green Mile – that’s the closest I have ever seen). It’s also just as emosh…tional.
Dystopian novels are a big win for me… in fact it is one of my favourite themes to read. Whilst I found myself a bit frustrated with Thomas, the rest of the book made it a good read. I knew the ending from watching the film, but that didn’t particularly detract from the book. It is a trilogy after all, and there are still many unanswered questions as to why the Maze was ever created. I’ll have to read the next book to find out.
Have you read the Maze Runner? If so, what were your thoughts?
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