Rebel Books (2018)
Reviewed by Adrienne Johnston for Reader Views (05/19)
The world as we know it now is becoming more focused on the individual – big corporations are in control, and society is crumbling. Regardless of whether the reader agrees with the previous statement or not, that is the background information needed for this particular book, “Individutopia” by Joss Sheldon. Set in the not-too-distant future of 2084, society has fallen. Everything costs money now, from the air breathed, to the number of steps taken from one destination to another. Any basic need is met with a quick internet order and even quicker delivery. There are no groups of people, only individuals focused solely on individual wants and needs. The words “you,” “our,” and “they” no longer exist. This is self-service, instant gratification, and consumerism at its finest.
The entire book focuses on Renee Ann Blanca and her journey, as seen from a narrator’s point of view. Renee is a product of the new individualistic world. She works, she consumes, she is alone, and she is content. At least, she is content in the beginning of the story. There is a triggering moment that leads Renee to question the point of her existence. This moment is the start of Renee’s journey to find the truth of the world and to find people just like her. She faces challenges that shape her worldview and leads her to great personal growth.
At 168 pages, this book is a quick and easy read. Sheldon tackles a societal issue in an extreme, possibly absurd, manner that is effective to make the reader stop to consider if such a future, as laid out in the book, is actually possible. Since the book is so short, some of the story feels rushed; specifically towards the end when the narrator is revealed, and Renee’s story is wrapped up. The narrator, or rather who the narrator is revealed to be, is the weakest part of the book and disrupts the vibe of story. Personally, I would have preferred the narrator to be Renee looking back and recounting her experience years later.
“Individutopia” by Joss Sheldon was enjoyable and thought provoking read. Sheldon made it easy to see that unless real change happens, our future could look like Individutopia. It is rare, in my experience, that a book is both an easy read and thought provoking. I appreciated that Sheldon was able to capture both elements.