Tze-Wen's Reviews > Moxyland

Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
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's review
Nov 16, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: thriller, dystopia, 2012, africa, given-away
Read from May 18 to June 17, 2012

Moxyland is the title of a fictional video game in which fluffy, colourful characters unleash terrible violence onto other players. It's also a game for children. The interesting fact is that, while this behaviour is tolerated, players can be disconnected because of swearing. Imagine for a moment how these children, who represent the future of their country, gleefully hack each other's characters apart. This does not bode well for South African society, does it? In my opinion, the brief introduction to Moxyland via spoilt rich twentysomething Toby, offers a simplified view of the coldness and self-centeredness that are eating away at the heart of dystopian South Africa.
Toby's fellow protagonists are no shining examples of citizenship either; beautiful Kendra, who believes her analogue photos reveal the imperfection of the real world, chooses to become a sponsor baby. Her body is enhanced with an army of nanobots to keep her healthy and high. The downside is that she needs the addictive soft drink Ghost in order to function. Anti-corporati Tendeka, who married a pregnant fugitive girl and tries to rescue glue-sniffing disconnected youngsters in his daily life, is her opposite. He may well be the only one of the bunch who tries to see the big picture, at the cost of endangering himself and his loved ones. Tendeka hates the fact that he needs Toby for his "revolutionary" protest actions, because his not-quite-friend is only ever interested in gaining more viewers for his streamcast. In turn, Toby frequently calls on his ex-lover Lerato for help. She, a brilliant programmer heavily entrenched in the corporate world, views the small disruptions that she facilitates as proof of her cleverness. Who would suspect her of aiding terrorists?
Admittedly, these antiheroes are not particularly likable, but they represent different movements in their society well. The author successfully captured the angst and suffocating oppression that plagues her protagonists. It is only a matter of time, the reader will realise, before their deviant behaviour will be found out and punished. And when they are finally facing the abyss, which path will they each choose?
I'd like to issue a caution to the unsuspecting reader: be prepared for a lot of slang and dropping of the f-word. If you can cope with that, you may just find this book surprisingly enjoyable.

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05/18/2012 page 20
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