Book Review: Moxyland By Lauren Beukes

MoxylandMoxyland is set in South Africa, only a stone’s throw into the future, in a society where the difference between employment and unemployment can also be the difference between life and death; where the greatest punishment is to have your mobile phone disconnected.

Starting slowly, the novel introduces us to its four narrators: Kendra the retro photographer; Toby the vlogcaster; Tendeka the would-be revolutionary; and Lerato the corporate programmer. Telling their intertwined stories over the course of alternating chapters, they show us their world, and we get to watch with horrified fascination as they become slowly embroiled in a deadly conspiracy that none of them fully understands.

With her stripped prose and lack of superfluous description, Lauren Beukes gives us what we need to see the world through the characters’ eyes. They never feel the need to over-explain themselves, and each has a distinctive and recognizable voice. The pages whip by quickly, as the tension grows, and as readers, we’re only half a step ahead of the characters in piecing together the seriousness of what’s going on.

Lean, sharp, and tightly written, Moxyland keeps raising the stakes, from the opening chapter to the uncompromising finale. And with its electronic panopticon, it gives us a dystopia to rival 1984 or Stand On Zanzibar – a future horrifying for its very plausibility.

Moxyland is published by Angry Robot.

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