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Beloved friend,

The year is 2084, and that famous Margaret Thatcher quote has become a reality: There really is no such thing as society. No one speaks to anyone else. No one looks at anyone else. People don’t collaborate, they only compete.

I hate to admit it, but this has had tragic consequences. Unable to satisfy their social urges, the population has fallen into a pit of depression and anxiety. Suicide has become the norm.

It all sounds rather morbid, does it not? But please don’t despair, there is hope, and it comes in the form of our hero: Renee Ann Blanca. Wishing to fill the society-shaped hole in her life, our Renee does the unthinkable: She goes in search of human company! It’s a radical act and an enormous challenge. But that, I suppose, is why her tale’s worth recounting. It’s as gripping as it is touching, and I think you’re going to love it…

Your trusty narrator,


160 pages, Kindle Edition

Published August 23, 2018

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About the author

Joss Sheldon

8 books169 followers
Joss Sheldon is a scruffy nomad, unchained free-thinker, and post-modernist radical. Born in 1982, he was brought up in one of the anonymous suburbs which wrap themselves around London's beating heart. Then he escaped!

With a degree from the London School of Economics to his name, Sheldon had spells selling falafel at music festivals, being a ski-bum, and failing to turn the English Midlands into a haven of rugby league.

Then, in 2013, he stumbled upon McLeod Ganj; an Indian village which plays home to thousands of angry monkeys, hundreds of Tibetan refugees, and the Dalai Lama himself. It was there that Sheldon wrote his debut novel, 'Involution & Evolution'.

With several positive reviews to his name, Sheldon had caught the writing bug. He visited Palestine and Kurdistan, to research his second novel, 'Occupied'; a masterpiece unlike anything you've ever read.

But it was with his third novel, 'The Little Voice', that Sheldon really hit the big time; topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and gaining widespread critical acclaim.

In 2017, he wrote 'Money Power Love'; a love story that charts the rise of the British Empire, and the way in which bankers, with the power to create money out of nothing, were able to shape the world we live in today.

A year later, he released what is arguably his greatest story to date, 'INDIVIDUTOPIA: A novel set in a neoliberal dystopia'. Fans of 1984 will love this fast-paced classic, set in a world in which corporations rule supreme.

Sheldon returned with his first work of non-fiction. 'DEMOCRACY: A User's Guide', combines his conversational tone with a series of entertaining anecdotes and thought-provoking ideas; asking what can be done to make our political systems, economies, schools, media, police forces and armies that bit more democratic.

Now he's back again with "Other Worlds Were Possible"; a literary masterpiece, which dramatises the effects of European imperialism; reminding us that there was a time before nations, private property, hierarchy and money...

T: www.twitter.com/JossSheldon
F: www.facebook.com/joss.sheldon

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 119 reviews
Profile Image for Bandit.
4,607 reviews465 followers
July 31, 2018
Love me a good dystopia. This one, however, had all the subtlety of the freight train. The not too far away future the author imagined, a nightmarish spin out off of Margaret Thatcher’s terrifying quote There is no such thing as society, sees the rise of the individual as a leading mentality, which results in the privatized, monopolized, commercialized oligarchy. It’s pretty much where things are currently headed, but exaggerated for dramatic effect. No, not merely exaggerated, hysterically hyperbolic. So much so that it becomes a heavy handed socialist farce instead of a clever sociopolitical satire it might have been. And as such it probably becomes easier to dismiss as ultraliberal socialist propaganda instead of something that might inspire actual thought and dialogue. For pure entertainment value it’s just ok, it tries for cuteness with its omniscient narrator opting for chumminess, referring to the reader as beloved friend. It does have a basic narrative structure, arc included, about one of the new world order waking up to the real world, exiting the mad race of the city and finding way to the socialist utopia in the woods and thus finding the real meaning of life and all that, but seems like that’s just the vehicle for the message and the message is too loud to enjoy listening to no matter what side of the fence you're on. Clunky like its title. Brief at least, something like 105 minutes. Thanks Netgalley.
Profile Image for Steve.
70 reviews1 follower
July 18, 2018
Set in a vivid and terrifying dystopian future, Indivdutopia presents a positive message and some thought provoking discussion and observation. Joss Sheldon does a great job of blurring the lines between playful narrative and insightful political commentary. Certain passages felt like simple and silly bubble gum storytelling, but underneath the surface there was always much more going on. Great fun with the narrator, and I'm not sure if the frequent use of i-Objects was meant to repulse those of us who are sick to the back teeth of consumer tat but it really helped underline the message! There are some really original concepts in this novel, and it's sure to raise a smile in anyone who reads on the way to/from their incredibly productive jobs. It and it should definitely give this a read!
Profile Image for Rigby Taylor.
46 reviews2 followers
July 16, 2018
One of my pleasures is reading a well-written story that not only entertains, but makes me think. Individutopia is such a book.
Maggie Thatcher’s 1979 political premise that there’s no such thing as society – only lots of individuals, has had an enormous effect on subsequent government policies. Social programmes whittled away and public services and infrastructure privatised so only users pay instead of society sharing the costs, thus allowing successful individual entrepreneurs to accumulate most of the wealth that was once shared. Wages have declined, large numbers of the population have become wage slaves, and the unemployed are increasingly censured for their failure to provide for themselves.
Assuming existing trends and methods will continue, Joss Sheldon has created a believable dystopian future in which Renee, a proud individualist armed with the mind-bending belief that good individuals conform, the current system is right, slogans are wisdom and digital illusions are real, bravely works to prove she is a worthy contributor and a proud individual willing and able to pay off her debts, so she will one day own her own pod and have the ‘good’ life.
The situation today in which the mesmerising influence and increasing isolation of individuals engendered by Internet social media, virtual reality and games in which personal avatars battle against others, is taken to it’s logical conclusion in a country where everything is owned by less than one percent of the population.
As Renee’s problems and debts mount, she is forced to confront the macabre reality of her situation.
The reader too, is forced to consider seriously the direction in which our society is heading, work out what alternatives are possible, and how to implement them before it is too late. If it isn’t already too late.
100 reviews9 followers
February 11, 2019
I wanted to like this book. Really. I went into it quite excited with its premise and hoped it would live up to my level of excitement. It didn't. Not even close. In fact, I found myself disappointed and waiting for it to end. It had very few, very brief moments of insight, but that was wholly overshadowed by its other factors.

Generally, I would say I have at least enjoyed every dystopia novel I have read to some degree. This is due to the fact that they point out the glaring problems of society in a creative, thought-provoking way. And, generally, they are quite original and unique. "Individutopia" lacked everything that made the others great. It was so on-the-nose with its points (plot and philosophy) that there was never any surprise. I could see each turn coming a mile off. And I had a very hard time looking beyond the fact that Sheldon seems to have simply repackaged other dystopian works and sold them to a younger generation. Imagine "Idiocracy", "Brave New World", "1984", and "Fahrenheit 451" all smooshed together but without any of the creativity, originality, or profundity which made them so impressive and unique. He spends nearly the entire book attempting to paint as unique and dark a world which I have seen many times before and created in better, more inspired ways. The main character is uninteresting at best. I felt no connection to her nor did I care about what turns her life took because I already knew what would happen.

If you have ever read any dystopia novel you have enjoyed or have any experience with the titles "Brave New World", "1984", "Fahrenheit 451", or "Idiocracy", I would strongly advise you not to read this book. You will be disappointed.

I would only recommend this book to someone of a very recent generation who happens to have no experience with the aforementioned titles. Then, once they finished "Individutopia" I would recommend them some of the true titans of the genre to truly appreciate its essence.
Profile Image for Ryan.
1,155 reviews150 followers
May 25, 2020
I tend to really like dystopian novels, especially economic dystopian novels, but this one was just horrible in most ways a book can be horrible -- gratingly badly written prose, too-obvious and telegraphed plot, lack of redeeming interesting characters, etc. It feels like an L Ron Hubbard style "write a book about this topic on a drunken dare", only worse.
Profile Image for Stephanie Jane.
Author 4 books231 followers
September 30, 2018
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

October is the month for reading scary novels so I am happy to be starting it by blogging my review of Joss Sheldon's new novel, Individutopia. Set in 2084, a nod to George Orwell's 1984 of course, Sheldon takes Margaret Thatcher's famous statement 'there is no such thing as society' and runs that idea to a horrifically dark conclusion. We see future London through the Plense-covered eyes of our medicated heroine, Renee, and discover just how much of her wonderful life isn't perhaps as wonderful as she had believed.

I did find Individutopia to be more heavy-handed in style than I remember from Sheldon's previous novels and I felt some of his points and ideas were hammered home far more frequently than was needed. However this is still an intriguing and interesting novel. I liked Renee and could empathise with her desire to be the best person she could be. Her struggle to then integrate into a completely alien worldview is nicely portrayed. I don't have a particularly good knowledge of Central London so the details of Renee's running between job opportunities was lost on me, but the idea of pointless employment felt very real! Even though I prefer minimal living spaces myself, I couldn't imagine trying to survive in Renee's pod - where would I pile all my books?!
Profile Image for Joseph J Clark.
Author 1 book6 followers
May 9, 2019
One star for socialist leanings, one star for being quite short.

What a terribly written, internet forum fan-fic of a novel. Novella. Whatever.
August 17, 2018
I was asked to read this book and to provide an honest review.

Dystopian books are not my thing. As a matter of fact, I had to look up the word dystopian after reading some of the reviews. However, if a book is well written and intrigues me within the first chapter or so, I will continue to read on. Joss Sheldon is a great Author. His books intrigue you at first and then you just have to read on. I finished the book in a couple of days, and up until the ending, I loved it. But not from a "dystopian" point of view. I admired how Joss was able to convey the feelings of his main character in such a realistic manner. I kept telling my husband that "this author either has anxiety issues or lives with someone who does", because all the self talk she does to herself via her alter egos is dead on balls accurate.

I'm not going to tell you the story plot. You can read that on the front cover, so to speak. I am going to recommend this book because you get sucked in, you feel real emotions for the main character, there are some funny parts (i.e. the meeting at the tree) some wacky parts, and some parts that clearly make you say "YUCK". And as I said above, I didn't like the ending. And I had a very hard time coming to terms with giving five stars for a book where I didn't like the ending. But I can say that about hundreds of books I have read and movies I have seen - and it didn't stop me from recommending it to someone else. I simply wanted it to end differently.

So try it. I think you will like it. A LOT.
Profile Image for Jamrock.
233 reviews1 follower
May 15, 2019
“Individutopia: A Warning From History”⁣⁣
“She held lectures in the longhouse, teaching about the perils of individualism, personal responsibility and hard work. She shocked children and adults alike with her tales of working for the sake of working, chasing impossible dreams and ignoring other people.”⁣⁣
Brilliant and bleak, speaks to the heart of the challenges faced by society today. Should be compulsory reading in secondary schools but, hey, academies wouldn’t want the youth reading stuff like this. ⁣

Five star read by @josssheldon 🙌
53 reviews
July 21, 2018
Joss Sheldon has a penchant for reviving old genres. In Money Power Love he wrote a modern picaresque. His Individutopia might at first resemble modern classical works of dystopias like Brave New World or 1984 but in fact is more akin to the utopias created by Thomas More or Francis Bacon. Allow me to explain.

In 1984 and Brave New World the authors chose to write novels that portrayed dystopian futures. The characters were real, the plots involved—in all ways they were like any other novel except in their depth of vision and memorable portrayal of future society.

While Individutopia similarly portrays a bleak future, the point is less to depict a realistic future and more to provide commentary on contemporary society. Just as Thomas More and Francis Bacon wrote utopias in order to reform early modern England, Joss Sheldon wants to wake us from our serotonin reuptake inhibitors, smart phones and pursuit of the almighty dollar (or pound) to realize the vitality of human relationships, fellowship and society.

While Sheldon is not the first to criticize the IPhone obsessed age, he is the first to merge this critique with a finely crafted work that comments and draws upon thinkers as different as Ray Kurzweil and Martin Buber.

Look for the significance of every word. Margaret Thatcher, who is according to Sheldon the begetter of this world for seeing herself as ruling only distinct individuals and not a society, is characterized as looking half-human half-robotic. Of course, in the post-Singularity world of Kurzweil or the dystopia of Sheldon human beings fuse with artificial intelligence in exactly the same manner. Carefully crafted prose like this is characteristic of Individutopia.

Thus, by creating a future London which possesses the technological advances predicted by futurists but bears more resemblance to the England of the industrial revolution than their forecasted utopias, Sheldon provides a seething commentary on the less flattering aspects of contemporary society (or, in his opinion, lack thereof).

If you are sympathetic to this kind of commentary you will love Individutopia. If you are disappointed in not seeing fully developed characters and a realistic plot, remember that you are reading about a dystopia meant to provide a window onto our own flaws as human beings than a conventional novel. Once you understand the genre, the book is a humorous and prescient delight.
Profile Image for Charles Ray.
Author 418 books140 followers
August 2, 2018
In 2084, there is no such thing as society. The cult of the individual reigns supreme. But, for one individual, one day the path to self-discovery reveals itself. Individutopia by Josh Sheldon is a dystopian tale that takes the current obsession with individualism to its ultimate extreme. Most of the world’s wealth is owned by a few individuals—does that ring any bells?—and the individual is allowed earn just enough income to survive, but never to be able to escape the heavy burden of debt. Renee Blanca, the last baby born to two people who actually talked to each other, begins to question her place in the world, and begins to rebel against the many restrictions on those individuals who are mere work units for the benefit of the less than one percent who own everything.
You’ll not miss the parallels with our current existence, and hopefully this book will make you think about the path we’re currently on, and what you, as an individual, can do to restore society to its rightful place.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I have to admit it elicited strong emotions, not all positive—but, not against the author or the story, but the fact that it all rings too true—I still give it five stars. A must read in today’s world! Get it as soon as it's released.
August 13, 2018
In a world where each person lives disconnected from other people and from nature, Renee seeks the company of other persons, love and friendship. Even though she has never known any other way of living than being all alone, only accompanied by her avatars, and never having had any contact with any other human being, in Renee begins to manifest the strange sensation that this way is not enough. So she leaves her place in search for human company and she discovers that the real world is quite different from what she had learned thorough technical devices.
This is a great story about the human dependance on technology and it effects of estrangement from the rest of people, and the world. The plot is well developed as well as the characters, and the reader gets immersed in Renee's world. It has been an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Marijana Ivanova.
6 reviews1 follower
March 31, 2021
I am grateful and honored that I have had the pleasure to work with Joss and design the book cover for Individutopia, and most of his other novels also.
I like dystopian novels, I am a fan of Orwell's '1984' and Atwood's 'Handmaid's tale', and this one also lived up to my expectations! I found it uniquely interesting, and although it's set in a dystopian future, I found the novel very dynamic, joyful and vibrant, unlike the previous two that I mentioned. I liked the fact that although it's being compared to '1984', one of the main ideas of the story is quite an opposite one, with each person not being watched by the Big Brother, being free-willed, and yet choosing to be blind to see life's real pleasures, treasures and thrill.
A real eye-opening novel, let's just hope it stays dystopian and fictional, because the way things are going now... who knows, we might need to start saving for a pod :(
Profile Image for Shefali.
Author 3 books8 followers
October 26, 2018
Dystopian novels are not much of my cup of tea, I’ve only ventured as far as established classics such as 1984 and have enjoyed it. So with Individutopia, I was a bit sceptical, but all my doubts were gone once I read it. Indeed, it is a good read based on the very premise of Thatcher’s quote and set in the not so distant future. For me, what is important is not the author’s portrayal of a bleak future, but rather the author’s intention to give us a kind of a wake-up call of sorts, to make us see what the society has become today and also look into our own selves. By the end of the book, you’ll be surely asking yourself important questions about society and our way of life
Profile Image for Laura Ruetz.
1,257 reviews69 followers
May 28, 2020
I've read a lot of dystopian novels. They can take a variety of directions but Individutopia is absolutely unique in the direction it goes, and the extremes that are reached in terms of the breakdown of society. This is a an extreme dystopian future, in which there is no society, just individuals, all competing against each other to be the best. There is no we, just I. From breathing to walking, your very existence is a ticking debt counter - meaningless jobs are done to try to bring that debt down, but the more you earn, the more you consume and the more you need to be the best.

Renee is one of the people, raised alone by a bot - never in contact with another, viewing life through lenses that alter the very reality she lives in. She strives to compete, to be the best and to just focus on the I, like everybody should. Terrifying, right? Indeed! Can a person who has lived their whole life this way ever become more than just "I"? This is well written and unique in every way.

7 reviews
August 12, 2018
Individutopia is not a book for those who are lighthearted. There are themes, actions, thoughts, and situations that can be disturbing. So, I don’t want to say keep away, but be wary of what is to come. Putting that aside, Individutopia is a book of humanity’s potential and all too real future. The main theme of this book is society. How nowadays people blame society for their problems Blame society for all their failures. Now, in this future, there is no society and no human interaction. So, in conclusion, there are no problems but our own: humanity has become selfish. Each person is literally in their own little world. If one thought the grass is blue, then it WAS blue and if anybody said that grass was green, they’d be an outcast to that person.
We are introduced to an ominous narrator and Renee. Renee is a young 24-year-old woman, who in all her years has never interacted with another human being, but not because she doesn’t want to. Simply because she can’t: there is no such thing as socialization. So, in her mind, there is no need to. What people can admire about this book is the amount of philosophical effort was given. The author has a message they want to convey and although subtle about it, in the end, everything makes sense. Although there were many scenes that weren’t comfortable to read, they were necessary to the story. Each explicit scene has an underlying meaning, making the entire book a scroll of truths about modern day society. These raw and dirty scenes wanted to make me stop reading, but looking deeper, past the action being done: you could find purity being achieved. Breaking down the anatomy of humans not physically but more on a moral scale. If one is to compare the ‘society’ in this book to the one in the present day: you would find many similarities which is terrifying to me.
The story as a whole is an amazing and compelling read that has a message. This is what literature should be. A way to not just entertain the masses but give them something. What people do with the ideas and morals can essentially change who they are. The characters here are not likable, at first, but then soon gain our support. These characters show all of humanity’s pettiness and disgusting side while scraping for a sliver of light. Renee especially, is the living embodiment of human redemption. From doing nothing to doing something. Selfish to wanting to love. From wanting love to being happy to give it. In a way Renee is everyone before they find a purpose.
This book is like a tug-of-war. Between what humanity can be versus how it should be. The ending of the book is genius as it leaves the reader thinking. Leaves it to us to finish the story. The author essentially passed a rod to us and is now letting us decide where to go. To think of this story as just words, or as a legit warning.
In conclusion. Individutopia is a must-read for those in the interest of philosophical ideas. The ideals and moral high grounds presented by this society are mind-boggling and like the author stated: a warning. The world presented is one created by hours of deep thinking from the author, for it is not easy to create your own world. The characters show humans in both our best and disgusting forms. When it comes to structure, it can be considered professional. Individutopia is what it seeks out to be. Not to be a prophecy or some omen. But a warning of what can come. An amazing story.

Profile Image for Richard Sutton.
Author 8 books113 followers
July 27, 2018
Few writers can sling a pen with equal shares of humor, emotion and pure sarcasm, but Joss Sheldon has pulled it off perfectly! Individutopia is the Brave New World for the i-Generation. In an often annoying but very entertaining way, she tells the story of Renee who has just discovered there is more to working and consuming and measuring herself against all others. Constant competition may fuel an exceptionalist social philosophy, but here, author Sheldon trashes the excesses and losses of such a narrow, lonely worldview. If you appreciate dystopian political writing and enjoy a story with doubtful redemption and even more obscure motivation, then you are going to enjoy this well paced tale.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
121 reviews10 followers
January 17, 2019
Individutopia is enjoyable to read, whether you read it at face value or consider the political/dystopian elements of the plot. Now, I’m not much of a politician, so don’t expect too much rambling from me on that side of the fence. I do think some of the ideas, although extreme, are interesting though. I’ll discuss that in more detail later.

Our narrator is a consistent 3rd person, following the life of Renee Ann Blanca quite intimately. Born into a world with scarcely any human contact, she is raised by a robot until she is old enough to fend for herself. She lives in a pod she cannot even stand in and surrounds herself with virtual avatars to make up for the lack of human company. Renee is stuck in a monotonous, desperate lifestyle of competing against others... until she breaks free.

Individutopia is a nice length – not so short that you don’t have time to get into the narrative but equally it isn't repetitive, or slow. The light, conversational tone makes the topic less formal and therefore more approachable to the potential reader. In an informal fashion, the novel portrays the differences in the two parallels – society and individualism. I find the tone of the book to help in achieving this without being rigid, forced, or dull.

The time period the narrative takes place in is some years into our future. The social (or lack of) environment is completely alien and to an extent, a degree of world building is required to set the scene. Joss achieves this well, by introducing the reader to various aspects of the “alternative world” (for want of a phrase) gradually and consistently. Clearly, a lot of time and effort has gone into developing this novel. It pays off.

There are a few elements of Invidutopia’s narrative that are a little closer to home than we may like to think. Everything is a competition. Renee is constantly ranked against others. The mindset Renee grows up with is to work, constantly. Those that do not are shamed for it... practically spat upon, if they could see each other to do it, that is.
Individutopia today?

Are we pitted against each other? Are we pressured to be the best or look the best now, never mind in this dystopian world? Absolutely! Magazines, television and social media have proven to be huge catalysts to this ideology. Social media has also proven a nasty culprit for isolation – isn’t that ironic.
And here is another thought, ladies, and gents. Be honest, how many of you opt to put your headphones and listen to music privately in your downtime?

I do. I’m guilty. Once upon a time, our forebears couldn’t get out of that awkward chat on public transport by putting headphones in, or spend their lunch hour avoiding as many people as possible. Are we already setting ourselves up for an individualistic world in the future? I hope that nothing as extreme as that in Individutopia comes to pass. It’s an interesting question though.
Profile Image for Aban.
25 reviews
April 29, 2021
grotesque af,but i want to re read this book

its one of the most disturbing dystopia books i have ever read
Profile Image for Stephanie Popp.
171 reviews2 followers
October 1, 2020
Dystopian novels are not usually my go to when it comes to books, but I really enjoyed this one.

It was a quick and quirky read. The protagonist, Renee, feels like she needs to break free from this individual existence that she is living in. The book does a decent job of explaining the how and the why, which I feel overwhelms me with some scifi novels.

There are a couple of twists at the end. One of the twists made me sad, but was well done in my opinion. I don't mind feeling my feelings!
Profile Image for Phillip.
1,091 reviews52 followers
July 22, 2020
This is a quick, fun dystopian novel based on the neoliberal ideal of complete individualism, the absolute dominance of a market-based worldview, and the utter elimination of any form of cooperation. Sheldon begins with Maggie Thatcher's statement that there is no such thing as society, and imagines an entire world created and run on that premise--where individuals never interact with one another, are entirely self-focused (even losing knowledge of words like 'you,' 'them,' and 'us') and exist entirely in self-contained lives run by digital screens, holographic avatars, and special contact lenses that entirely filter other people out of their perception.

The novel follows Renee Ann Blanca, who was born into this world and finds it perfectly natural, but slowly comes to realize just how empty her life of doing pointless short term contract work for less pay than she accumulates in debt and finding comfort in a drug induced haze is. She formulates the radical (to her) notion that she wants other people--even though her uber-individualized worldview doesn't initially allow her to make sense of that desire. Slowly, she manages to overcome her ideology, and makes her way out of the city to in search of a community. When she manages to find one, she learns what it's like to live collectively with others, before a final, horrifying revelation.

Like many dystopian novels, Individutopia is not a subtle book that asks readers to consider and carefully weigh nuanced political arguments. It is, in some ways, politically clumsy, especially in the narrators knowledge of early 21st century norms, ideals, and notions, which make the world of the book more comprehensible, but make it harder to accept the narrator as a person of this world. But the goal of a dystopia is not to be subtle, so in that sense, there's little to choose between this and some of the great novels of the genre.
Profile Image for Mina Chrys.
35 reviews6 followers
September 2, 2018
I came by this book via Booktasters.

It follows Renee Ann Blanca, during a sorry future where there is no society and each person is left to fend by themselves, work is nonsensical, as are routine and interaction with avatars who tell her what she wants to hear, more importantly, there is no purpose, no goal. As it so happens, Renee follows apath of realization, and embarks on a mission to find another being with whom to interact, there are other “others” who cross paths with her, and each of these situations leave a mark on her.

For a book based solely on a single person, it gives great insight into the mind of someone who hasn’t learned to interact with others, who has never had any phusical touch with another human being. The book is fast paced and easy to read and get into, characters, described by a third person who sees it all and yet, I felt like this narrator had lived Renee’s same life and was desperate for some kind of human interaction.

Definitely worth reading, for those who have read anything by Joss Sheldon or those first timers like me, entertaining, fun and somehow relatable, there is something about society nowadays, that makes us feel far from or mistrusting of others, people should not let that happen.
Profile Image for Ellen Christian.
229 reviews223 followers
August 10, 2018
Book provided for review.

If you can imagine a world where society no longer exists, all clothing brands are Nike and Nestle has monopolized the food supply, you’re part way there. Next, imagine a world where we live almost entirely online with avatars to interact with and made up people to like our tweets and our photos.

In Renee’s world, everyone is concerned only with themselves. They don’t interact with other people or even acknowledge that they exist. They work because they have to be the best at everything they do. But, their work is meaningless and has no purpose. One day, after a series of events, Renee begins to realize these things and the changes she makes cause a huge change in her life.

I really, really enjoyed this book. The storytelling style is definitely reminiscent of 1984 and a Brave New World. I loved reading about Renee’s life and picturing it in my head as she went through her day. And, I could see some similarities already in the life we live today. I cannot decide if the author was trying to warn us about the dangers of socialism or trying to warn us what would happen if we accepted socialism. Either way, it was an amazing read that I really enjoyed.
June 23, 2019
There's quite a good book in there somewhere but somehow this lacks the writing skill to help me build any feelings towards its characters or any coherence in the storyline. A series of too many very small spectacles float around in an otherwise confusing thread.

There was nothing in the beginning to connect me to the end.

Clearly, the author can think and project this thinking into a dystopian and desperate human existence but the storyteller's craft is missing in all its forms.

Profile Image for Ivan.
234 reviews1 follower
August 24, 2018
This is a very well written dystopian novel in the likes of George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World; it also reminded me of Ready Player One a little. I really enjoyed reading every part of the story, there's no dull moments in it.
Profile Image for AJ Valls.
7 reviews
June 26, 2019
I thought the book had some great ideas and for those, I gave two stars. I didn't feel comfortable with the author's writing style nor did I feel attached to the story thread. At some points, I didn't understand the story thread.

Others might enjoy this book, I'm sorry but I didn't.
Profile Image for Robin Levin.
42 reviews4 followers
July 17, 2018
Joss Sheldon’s indivutopia is a Swiftian satire depiction human life in the latter part of the 21st century if present economic, social, political and technological trends continue toward their logical conclusion.
The socio-economic trend is set in motion in 1979 when British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announces “There is no such thing as society.” From that point on, everyone is an individual responsible for himself or herself and for no one else. Freed from all restraint, the oligarchs amass fortunes and continue to amass fortunes until all wealth ends up in the hands of a very few companies. There is nothing anymore that is publicly owned, everything has been privatized and is owned by one of the oligarchs. Taxes have been entirely abolished as of 2039. What do they do with the ordinary people? They concentrate them all into the city of London and house them in “pods.” Pods are boxes one meter high, two meters long and one meter wide. All food is provided by Nestles, all furniture by Ikea, housing by the Podsicle Company.
Humans have ceased to interact. “People stopped hugging each other. Then they stopped touching each other completely. They wore Plenses; computerised contact lenses, which edited a user’s vision so they didn’t have to look at anyone else. They spoke to their electronic devices instead of speaking to real people. Words such as “You”, “We” and “They” fell out of use. There was only “It” and “I”.”
The heroine of the story is Renee Ann Blanca. A couple had copulated and parted, and nine months later the woman had immediately given her baby, Renee, into the care of a babytron-a robot that is assigned to nurture infants. Renee, aged 24, lives in one of millions of pods in London. She owns several avatars which are her only company-I Original, I-Special, I-Green, I-Sex. This last she uses to fulfill her sexual needs. She medicates herself with anti-depressants constantly. She owes 113,410 pounds and this number is continually rising. She is charged for walking on the streets, for every word she speaks to the avatars who interview her for jobs, and of every breath she takes through her gas mask when she ventures out into the polluted air. She is charged for every dose of anti-depressant she takes. Renee has been indoctrinated to believe that she must earn everything she receives, so every day she goes out to seek work. She has to compete with so many others for the available jobs, and sometimes she is successful, and sometimes not. She never makes enough money to pay off her debt and the debt is continually rising. The work she gets has no value-it is make-work that the oligarchs devise to keep people so busy that they do not rebel or make trouble. Renee goes through life without ever making contact with another human being. Every other person is competition. There is no such thing as teamwork or co-operation.
There comes a time when Renee gets fed up with the squirrel cage existence and begins to realize that something important is missing in her life. She decides to do what no one else has dared to do-leave London. She has no idea where she is going or what she will find.
Joss Sheldon’s depiction of the future sounds extreme, but certain elements strike a familiar chord. There is a trend to lower taxes, to privatize everything, and to mire the middle class in debt. The wealth has been flowing massively into the hands of a few oligarchs and real wages for working people have remained stagnant or have decreased. Governments are under a lot of pressure to curtail programs that assist the poor. Anything that is considered socialistic, like universal healthcare, subsidized higher education, Social Security, or environmental regulation is anathema to the oligarchs and they seek to manipulate the political system to abolish such amenities. The public is led to believe that these trends are necessary for “freedom.”
Personally, I have always believed that there is a balance to be found between the individual and the community. The happiest societies have achieved this balance, and this balance incorporates both capitalism and socialism. Capitalism is allowed but regulated. Socialist amenities like universal health care, affordable higher education, a livable minimum wage, and subsidized child care are taken for granted in these societies. In the U.S. we have lost this balance and are headed for a dystopic individutopia.

Profile Image for Yuniar Ardhist.
116 reviews15 followers
March 1, 2023
Novel distopia yang sebenarnya punya ide sangat menarik. Menggambarkan bagaimana keadaan dunia yang “tanpa masyarakat”. Dipantik oleh ‘ideologi’ Margaret Thatcher yang sangat membela ekonomi pasar dan kebebasan individu seluas-luasnya dalam mekanisme neoliberalisme, novel ini memberikan gambaran ekstrim jika keadaan yang diangankan oleh Thatcher itu menjadi kenyataan.

Sebagai sebuah alegori politik, novel ini layak mendapat tempat. Dunia di tahun 2084, di mana olegarki sangat menguasai “hajat hidup orang banyak” dalam sebuah negara. Manusia menjadi komoditas, bersifat individual, melakukan setiap hal untuk bertahan hidup demi dirinya sendiri. Tidak perlu peka pada sekitar, tidak perlu memikirkan hal di luar kehidupannya sendiri. Manusia masa itu akan hidup tanpa bisa mempertanyakan sebab-akibat, karena sistem besar yang tak mampu mereka lewati untuk melawan.

Detil-detil gambaran situasinya dijelaskan oleh Joss Sheldon di buku ini. Misal bagaimana manusia dikelilingi oleh hologram-hologram yang merupakan varian lain dari dirinya. Menciptakan banyak versi untuk menghibur, berinteraksi, bahkan berhubungan seks. Manusia di masa itu juga hidup dalam kungkungan grafik-grafik, angka, peringkat, menunjukkan bahwa semua berada dalam lingkaran kompetisi. Semua dirangking, bahkan untuk kategori-kategori sangat remeh, misal peringkat mendengkur.

So, buku ini sebenarnya adalah kritik dari seorang Joss Sheldon, penulis muda Inggris, atas situasi dunia yang sangat liberal dan bermekanisme pasar kapitalis.

Di perjalanan menuju akhir novel, Joss memberikan gambaran bagaimana ketika para individu hidup dalam sosialisme. Gambaran masyarakat yang hidup bahagia, saling bekerja sama, saling membantu, demi kehidupan baik bersama.

Menarik untuk dipandang dari sudut pandang itu.

Saya suka bagaimana Joss membuat alegori dengan penggambaran dalam distopia ini. Hanya saja, yang belum tampil secara sangat memukau adalah gaya bercerita Joss.

Joss tampil dalam narasi pendek, kalimat-kalimat relatif singkat. Mudah sebenarnya dibaca dan diikuti alurnya. Hanya saja, bagi saya terasa kurang memberi eksplorasi pada emosi. Kalimat-kalimatnya jadi lebih terasa seperti kemarahan seseorang yang ingin dilampiaskan. Kekesalan yang keluar setelah dipendam. Tentu ini bisa jadi agak berlebihan. Tapi bagi saya, tetap ada yang perlu lebih dipoles di karya ini, agar ujungnya memberikan reaksi pembaca merasakan kepedihan lebih besar akibat kehidupan yang benar-benar individual itu. Memberikan penyadaran bahwa masyarakat yang punah sebenarnya adalah jalur bunuh diri massal. Cepat atau lambat.
October 10, 2018
When I started to read Individutopia, I was watching the TV series House of cards and I immediately feel a familiarity between the styles of the two very interesting “works of art”.

Even the most distracted reader might recognize and be disoriented by the unexpected effect of the narrator who directly addresses to the audience, either spectator or reader.
In addition to this perfectly structured narrative aspect, there is the functional beginning in Medias Res which takes the reader straight into the middle of this dystopic future world.

Yet, this is just the start of what I would consider a great example of “cinematographic writing”. The initial triumph of the scenography emerges throughout the whole story. The insistency of the images on the pages under reader’s eye is the apology of this fast and involving style.
To this lively rhythm the author adds a wonderful dialogue which nearly makes the reader one of the main characters of the all plot.

The description of Renée is a mix of essential feelings, thoughts and acts which seem to be directly transferred to the holograms. The psychological characterization is the immediate consequence of the physical description. Acts and feeling constantly talk each other in order to create empathy between the reader and the character.

However, what really achieves the aim to represent the anxious atmosphere is the pressing rhythm of the obsessively overwhelmed existence by the debts which is presented through brief and cutting sentences. Every act is suddenly followed by a dark thought which is expressed by many questions that the main character keeps asking herself.

Everything flows in this obsessive tension till the really unexpected and dramatic turn of the events in the last part of the book. An extraordinary example of circular story line which still allows an open final.

I highly recommend Individutopia not just considering the great ability of the author to face a delicate political topic with a really involving story which is not a prophecy but a warning; but especially because the reading is an experience that makes the reader take part to the story with its fast development of events.
Profile Image for Ƙʏᴙᴀ.
180 reviews13 followers
June 18, 2020
"La società non esiste, esistono gli individui."

Anno 2084, una famosa frase di Margaret Thatcher è diventata realtà, la società non esiste più. Il governo è stato venduto o ceduto a singoli individui, tutto è stato privatizzato, e i cittadini, stanchi di confrontarsi con il prossimo, si sono letteralmente chiusi in una loro bolla privata fatta di avatar virtuali con cui interagire e antidepressivi per tirarsi su. Nessuno parla con nessuno, e perché mai dovrebbero farlo visto che hanno tutti il loro personale social media pieno di amici immaginari con cui chiacchierare e ricevere rassicurazioni, e nessuno guarda in faccia nessuno in quanto tutti hanno dei visori che gli permetteno di vedere solo ciò che vogliono vedere, ovvero loro stessi. L'unica interazione contemplata è la competizione data dalle classifiche giornaliere, dove tutti vogliono prevalere sugli altri a tutti i costi, anche se si tratta di numeri di sbadigli fatti in una giornata o ore passate a guardare gatti su internet.
La nostra protagonista Renee è completamente integrata nel sistema. Ogni giorno cerca lavoro, chiacchiera con i suoi avatar, si imbottisce di antidepressivi, passeggia per le strade di Londra cercando di mantenere il suo debito economico sotto controllo. Finché un giorno decide di fare qualcosa totalmente al di là di tutti gli schemi, vuole cercare qualcuno con cui parlare.

Pensiamo alla nostra "epoca", agli eccessi della nostra società: la difficoltà nel trovare lavoro, la competizione nell'affermarsi, l'ostenazione sui social e la ricerca di followers, l'isolamento sociale, la diffidenza verso il prossimo, le pubblicità martellanti...
Ecco, ora portiamo tutte queste cose all'estremo e avrete una piccola idea di quello che tratta individutopia. Un romanzo tanto breve quanto divertente, che senza troppe pretese e con un tono scanzonato racconta una realtà paradossale ma non tanto lontana da quella odierna. 4,5⭐
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