Landscape With Invisible Hand
by Anderson, M. T.

When jobs typically done by humans are replaced with alien technology, Adam's parents have no money for food, clean water, or medicine, forcing Adam and his girlfriend Chloe to get creative.

M. T. Anderson is the author of Feed, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; the National Book Award–winning The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party and its sequel, The Kingdom on the Waves, both New York Times bestsellers and Michael L. Printz Honor Books; Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad; and many other books for children and young adults. He lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

*Starred Review* Some fear that hypercapitalist technocrats, under the guise of altruism and progress, are fleecing the world; Anderson (Feed, 2002) stretches this premise to deliriously enjoyable extremes. In this novella-sized offering, an alien race known as the vuvv has overtaken the universe by promising to put an end to suffering with advanced technology. For most people on Earth, things don't pan out as planned. Sure, rich people in collusion with the vuvv get to live in sky mansions, but everyone stuck on the ground must contend with devastating poverty, a ruined environment, and the sundry humiliations of catering to a ruling class shaped like coffee tables. Enter Adam, our teenage hero, who happens to be a sarcastic artist suffering from considerable gastrointestinal distress. He and girlfriend Chloe start bringing in decent cash by streaming fake dates to vuvv audiences enamored with the notion of '50s sitcom romance. But when they break up in real life, can they keep up the illusion of being in love? What humiliations will they endure to keep their families from going hungry? Throw in a romantic rival, an interplanetary art contest, and plenty of scintillating details about the Lovecraftian horrors of the vuvv, and you've got the makings of an elegant, biting, and hilarious social satire that will appeal to dissatisfied, worried readers of all ages. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Humans inhabit the bottom echelons in this brief satirical novel of alien invasion that envisions a scenario more whimper than bang. Adam, a talented artist, lives with his mother and sister after his father abandons the family. When the 1950s-culture-obsessed vuvv landed years before, people were taken in by their promises to supply advanced technology and medicine, not understanding that they'd soon be obsolete, impoverished, and, like Adam, who suffers from a debilitating intestinal illness, without any means to pay for medical care. In short vignettes titled as if they are pieces of fine art, the bleakness of this new reality is expertly rendered—as in an early chapter in which his mother is roughed up by a fellow job seeker who threatens to burn her "motherfucking house down" if she persists in applying for the same part-time position. When they decide to rent out part of their house to another family, Adam and their daughter, Chloe, fall for each other. Monetizing their connection by broadcasting their 1950s-styled romance for the vuvv becomes mightily complicated when the relationship sours. The ethnicities of the main characters are not specified—the only time race is textually indicated is a passage where white people are shown rioting on television and blaming Mexican workers for stealing their jobs—but references to European art and the way Adam and Chloe slide into a clichéd movie vision of the 1950s both imply they are white and add further layers of interpretive complexity to the book. Resplendent with Anderson's trademark dry, sarcastic wit, this brief, complicated read serves as a scathing social commentary and, as the title indicates, an interrogation of free market economics. (Science fiction. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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