Set in a dystopian future America where rich business elites have traded jobs in exchange for the advanced alien technology of the colonising vuvv race, this Y.A. novel presents a bleak picture of the effects of automation and technology on a struggling population. The story is told from the point of view of Adam, a teen artist, who paints his harsh, day to day world of lost jobs, no money for food, disease-ridden water and unaffordable healthcare. Adam and his girlfriend Chloe sell their love to earn desperately needed money for their families by recording 1950s-style dates for the alien vuvv who crave “classic” Earth culture. Adam and Chloe soon learn the effects of turning love and art into a commodity as they begin to hate each other more with every episode. When Adam is entered into a galactic art competition he has to decide how much of his soul and integrity he is willing to sacrifice when he chooses whether to submit the still lives beloved of the vuvv or his own bleak depictions of the real world.
This short, satirical novel is presented in brief, readable chapters headed by the titles of Adam’s paintings and, for all its brevity, it achieves a sharp, powerful impact. It provides a realistic and coruscating social commentary on such present day problems and conflicts as the rich-poor divide, the exploitation of resources, the impossibility of any but the super-rich affording healthcare and the complete demoralisation of all those left struggling to survive while the elites inhabit the skies above in their floating apartments.
M.T. Anderson has written a timely, hard-hitting, blackly comic satire on the dangers of a complete disconnect between the super-rich, technological elite and everyone else. The bleak end results of elevating money over human values and emotions is personalised in the sympathetic and believable character of Adam who provides a human focus throughout a novel that will leave teen readers with much to consider and discuss.