Sunday, April 10, 2011

Review: Moxyland

Moxyland is a near future neo-cyberpunk novel set in Cape Town, South Africa.  In this debut novel by Lauren Beukes, the future is a world where the lines between giant corporations and the government are extremely fuzzy, and getting disconnected from your online life is considered a pretty brutal punishment. 

The story follows four different point of view characters who's lives intersect in a myriad of interesting ways.  There's Kendra, an art school dropout, who has recently locked down a corporate sponsorship, complete with nano-technology, and corporate backing for her film photography. Lerato is a corporate hacker, who is trying to work her way up the corporate ladder, while maintaining her free-lance hacker cred.  Toby, my favorite character, is an oversexed blogger, moocher, and rabble rouser.  He's also a total prick too.  Then there's Tendeka, a revolutionary at heart, ready to do what ever it takes to fuck things up for big brother, even if it means taking corporate money to fulfill his goals of sticking it to the man.

I really enjoyed reading Moxyland, and fully enjoyed the four varied POV's.  Beukes did a wonderful job of giving each a unique voice, and each character stood out.  Despite being an abrasive prick, Toby was definitely my favorite character.  Initially, I found his "voice" the most off putting, because his prickishness personality comes across so well, but I eventually came to enjoy his demeanor, and appreciated Beukes' skill at nailing down a variety of personalities.  For me, Tendeka was the weakest character, as he came across as the cliched "fight the power" type dude.  Still, the varied view points, all written in first person, was very well, done.  I feel like the changing point of view technique is used quite often lately, and is rarely done well, but Beukes manages to pull it off with skill.

Moxyland is one of those rare books that rekindled my love for reading...not that my love was waning or anything, it's just that this book felt so original and fresh and was of such a high quality.  Moxyland is a slick book with some sweet slang, and sports a lot of style.  Not only is it a great book, it is a cool book.  I've read some cyberpunk before, but Moxyland takes the coolness, and attitude of the sub-genre and cranks it up a few notches. 

Even though Moxyland is a debut novel, it never once felt like the work of a first-time author.  Beukes tells a gripping, fast paced story, and  had me hooked from the very early pages.  Beukes is definitely an author to check out.  I found the originality of the story very refreshing and I really enjoyed Beukes' writing style.  I fully expect to be reading more of her work in the future.  Looking for something unique and different to break up your usual reading patterns?  This is one to contemplate.  I give it the Battle Hymns endorsement.

Grade: A 

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