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Moxyland by Lauren Beukes

Moxyland (2008)

by Lauren Beukes

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3692729,371 (3.64)87
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    Astradeni by Eugenia Fakinou (Lucy_Skywalker)
    Lucy_Skywalker: These two books have absolutely nothing in common, but now I have this feeling that someone who liked the one may appreciate the other as well.

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Having read and enjoyed this author's The Shining Girls, I decided to read her others and I'm glad I did.

Told through the viewpoints of four characters, this is a scary story about a near-future world. Set in South Africa, the story focuses on new tech and how it can be used to control people. Disrupters in phones that are controlled by the police. Experimental nanotech that can become part of a person and give them cravings for the products produced by the tech's sponsor. Tech that we've come to depend on can be turned against us in an instant. Kendra, an up-and-coming photographer/artist opts for the new nanotech, hoping it will enhance her artistic expression. Toby, a slacker/gamer, spends his time looking for his next high and the breaking news he can record and broadcast that will make him famous. Tendeka, part of the underclass, wants to end corporate oppression while helping street kids. And Lerato, a corporate programmer, has ambitions of her own.

Toby is the connection to the others: friend to Tendeka, friend and sometimes lover to Lerato, acquaintance of Kendra. As they weave into and out of each other's lives, through Beukes's sure prose, the feeling of tension slowly builds to a chilling climax, sparked by Tendeka's growing involvement in a protest movement, his actions increasing in risk and danger, and pushing at the controlling entities until they push back. This book is almost too close to current reality to be called science fiction. More accurately, it can be considered a cautionary tale, a warning of where society is heading. ( )
  ShellyS | Jan 14, 2015 |
Lauren Beukes just writes such wonderful characters. Only one of the POV characters in this is really likeable, but my god I'm fascinated by every single one of them. Also, everyone who thought that cyberpunk was dead? I'm happy to say you're completely wrong. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Nov 25, 2014 |

I got this after tremendously enjoying Zoo City when it was nominated for the BSFA Award a few years ago. I'm afraid this left me rather colder; on the whole I enjoy urban fantasy (which Zoo City is) and I don't much enjoy cyberpunk (which Moxyland is), so I guess it's the specifics of the subgenre. There's deft interweaving of four different narrative strands with on-line gaming and the digital divide, all set in the near future of 2018; people with more of an affinity for Neuromancer than I have will enjoy this more than I did. ( )
  nwhyte | Oct 5, 2014 |
Still wish Goodreads allowed half-stars in ratings--would have given this one a 3.5.

Almost a 4: good cast of characters, interesting and pertinent issues/ideas, plenty of action, all that good stuff, besides which I guess I have a soft spot for nanotechnology and that sorta thing in books. Definitely enjoyed reading it.

Down to 3.5/3 because I felt the ending was kinda abrupt--trying not to mention anything too spoiler-ish, but for the most part everything comes crashing down around the characters' ears. Which was happening all along, plenty of smaller-scale glitches for them, and obviously escalating towards the finale--so no real surprise. But you know how even the not-so-happy endings, when well executed, can be just perfect, and for that particular a better fit than an all's-well-that-ends-well. The direction events were going--basically "to hell in a hand-basket"--definitely pointed towards some final misfortune(s), which was just fine for the tone/ambiance/whatever going here. But it lacked the right kind of artistry, symmetry...that 'something' that makes even tragic/unhappy endings, though still saddening/affecting, somehow satisfying. I can't say I expect that from every book, but it's still disappointing when the ending's not quite right.

So. There's my exhaustive, probably exhausting to read (if read by anyone at all), explanation of why it's 3(.5) stars rather than the 4 I wanted to give it. ( )
  -sunny- | Jul 15, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Every once in a while a novel comes along that’s touted as new, exciting, daring, meaningful, poignant, fresh, full of big ideas, etc. That’s what I’ve heard, so that’s what I was expecting and hoping for in Lauren Beukes’ novel Moxyland — especially since it has a nice blurb from William Gibson and has been compared to Neuromancer.

Moxyland takes place in a futuristic (2018) Cape Town, South Africa. The Cape Town setting is unique, and I was hoping to explore it a bit, but Beukes did not make use of her setting — Moxyland could have taken place anywhere. This Cape Town of the not-too-distant future is a police state run by big corporations where the police control people through government-approved cell phones. Software on the phones lets the police punish citizens by tasing them or cutting off access to their bank accounts and credit lines. In Cape Town, we meet four young adults:

Kendra is an art school dropout who has become an advertisement for a soft drink company. They pumped her up with biotechnology that makes her healthy and beautiful and gives her some of the attention she craves, but the biotech also makes its brand name glow through her skin and gives her a constant craving for their soda. Toby is a vlogger whose wealthy mother (“motherbitch”) has just cut him off because he spends all his money on drugs, girls, and expensive clothes. Eager for the website hits that prove people are paying attention to him, he spends his days walking around Cape Town looking for cool stuff to livestream to his vlog, “Diary of Cunt.” Lerato is an AIDS-baby who was raised in a corporate/government orphanage. She now works for them as a programmer, and she’s got an easy life in the posh corporate world, but she can’t quite manage to stay loyal to the corporation that’s given her everything she’s got. Tendeka wants to be a revolutionary, so he rallies kids, coerces them into not accepting government sponsorships, and uses them to commit useless acts of vandalism and civil disobedience. He manages to pull Toby, Lareto, and Kendra into his latest schemes against the Cape Town government.

These four young disillusioned people can’t manage to effectively change their world or their places in it. They have no noble ideology (beyond the vague feeling that things should just be “different” than they are), and the things they do just end up causing more harm than good. They are ineffective when they attempt to rage against the corporate machine because they are selfish and thoughtless and they refuse to give up what the corporation offers — technology, fashion, status, their favorite soda, and the feeling of being connected.

I like this idea, but I didn’t like Moxyland mostly for the simple reason that I despised every character in the book. Every single one of them was pathetic, hateful, nasty, rude, cynical, sarcastic, and said “fuck” nearly every time they opened their mouths. Not only did I dislike them and think they were pathetic — they all had these same feelings toward each other. They all irritated me and each other and it was pure misery to be around them.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Lauren Beukes wanted me to dislike all her characters and was, therefore, successful in that aspect of her novel. Because they are such a loathsome bunch of people, I cannot sympathize with them. In fact, I start to root for the corporation instead. I think this is the message, the warning: If we buy into what the corporation is selling, we should expect to become pathetically horrid creatures who deserve to be at its mercy. I like this message, but I spent eight hours with my face contorted into a grimace of disgust and I wish I had that time back. Moxyland would have worked better for me if there had been just one character who was different and who I could like. Instead, they all felt like nearly the same nasty person to me. They all had the same voice.

I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version of Moxyland, narrated by New Zealand actor Nico Evers-Swindell, who’s just as nice to listen to as he is to look at, though he needs to work on making his female characters sound more feminine. Brilliance Audio, I’m glad to see that you’re producing Angry Robot titles, but next time would you please include a picture of Nico on the back of the CD box? You usually have a picture of the narrator but his face is missing from Moxyland, just like the faceless people in the cover art. That way, if I don’t like the story, at least I can entertain myself by looking at Nico. Thanks for listening.

Lauren Beukes is talented and I think she accomplished what she wanted to with Moxyland. I can’t really blame her for not writing it for me, and my 2.5 star rating reflects my lack of enjoyment of this novel and not Ms. Beukes’ promise as a new SF author. Therefore, I am definitely on board for the next Beukes novel. In fact, Zoo City is already in my TBR pile. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
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It's nothing. An injectable. A prick. No hospital involved. Like a booster shot with added boost.
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This debut novel is a breath of fresh air. Beukes dares to look forward instead of backwards and the result is a high-octane, techno-savvy thriller that manages to deliver social commentary in a vehicle that is indubitably hip.

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2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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2 editions of this book were published by Angry Robot.

Editions: 0857660047, 0857660055

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